Media Psychology psychology

Media Psychology, Unit 4, AQA. 

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Woodard (1999)- Pro social behaviour

Identified that there were high levels of pro-social behaviour found in programmes for pre-school children. Almost 80% of programmes for pre-school children contained at least 1 pro-social lesson. whereas only 25% of programmes for under 17's contained pro-social behaviour. 

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Rushton (1975)- Pro Social behaviour

Observed children after they had watched pro-social television and found that they demonstrated positive attitudes and behaviour. This was short-lived however and only lasted a couple of weeks. Parental mediation resulted in an increase in pro-social behaviour by the child. 

Austin (1993) argued that parental mediation is only effective if they discussed the programme with the child. They explained any unclear or distressing material. They put into practice elements of pro-social behaviour in the programme. 

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Rosenkoetter (1999)- Pro-Social behaviour

Found that older children grasped the moral story shown in an episode of Full house or the Cosbey show. He also found a positive correlation between the amount of sitcoms watched and the amount of Pro-social behaviour it also found that children who watch pro-social sitcoms does influence how helpful children are

It has a high level of validity- real IV. Younger children are less likely to respond to an interview than older children. 

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Bandura (1961) - Social learning theory- Media inf

73 children aged 3-6, split up into 3 groups, one group watched a violent film, one a non violent film and one control group. 

After watching the film they were then released into a room with a bobo doll, and they were observed on how they played with the doll. 

Bandura found that children exposed to the non-violent film were far less likely to behave aggressively than those who were exposed to the violent condition.

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Huesmann et al. (2003)- Cognitive priming- Media i

Found that once a child has learnt a script, it is used to define situations and guide how to behave if similar situations arise.

Men classed as high violence in boyhood had 3 times the crime conviction rate of low violence viewers.  

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Osswald (2010)- Positive effects of computers and

Helping Behaviour:

Showed participants who played the video game Lemmings displayed more pro-social behaviour than those who played a more aggressive game Lamers or a neutral game Tetris. After playing the games for 8 minutes, participants would see the researcher 'accidently' knock over a cup of pencils. 67% of pro-social players helped pick up the pencils, 33% from the neutral game and 28% from the aggressive game. 

It has low ecological validity. Most children will not select the pro-social games in real life, 85% of video games contain some sort of violence in them. 

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Lenhart et al. (2008)- Positive effects of compute

Social Commitment: 

64% of those who played games like Halo or The sims were committed to civic participation (opposed to 59% of solo players) and 26% had tried to persuade others how to vote in an election (opposed to 19% of solo players). They also found that those who took part in social interactions related to the game were more committed civically and politically. 

There were not very big differences with the percentages. Large scale study, so it is more generalisable, however it still was based in the US. It does not account for individual differences.  

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Gonzales et al. (2011)- Positive effects of comput


Argue that facebook walls have a positive influence on self-esteem as feedback in generally posted on they by others and tends to be positive. Students were given 3 minutes to browse their facebook, look at themselves in a mirror or simply do nothing. Those who had used their facebook page gave much more positive feedback about themselves than the other groups.

It is non-generalisable as it was a study experimented on university students. The participants that were no facebook may have had a higher self-esteem before the study. Not very ecologically valid. 

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Tafalla (2007)- Negative effects of Computers and

Increased Negative Arousal:

Found when music played during the game Doom both men and women showed increased arousal in comparison to no music.

This shows more arousal to music than to violence.

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Sheese and Grazelano (2005)- Negative effects of C

Reduced helping behaviors:

48 people played a violent and a non-violent video game Doom. They were given the option of cooperating with each other, exploiting each other or withdrawing from the game. Violent game= more likely to exploit partner. 

It is non-generalizable. Exploiting a partner does not necessarily represent what such a person would do in a real life situation. 

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Unsworth et al. (2007)- Negative effects of Comput

Increased aggressive behavior, cognitions and feelings:

Measured reactions of participants who played Quake 2 (violent). They found feelings and behaviors did not change unless they were aggressive originally. It is more nature than nurture. 

As it is not a longitudinal study, it is difficult to say whether participants remained unaggressive after playing this game. 

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Bartholow (2006)- Negative effects of Computers an

Desensitization to violence:

Compared to brain responses of habitual players with those who don't play violent video games. There was a reduced brain response in those participants suggesting it is possible to become desensitized. 

Individual differences, it depends on the person and the type of games they are playing. It is supported by much scientific research. 

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Carneey(2007)- Negative effects of Computers and V

Desensitisation to violence: 

Examined the effect of playing violent video games on responses to real-life violence. They allocated participants to 2 differet conditions:

  • Condition one played a violent video game for 20 mins
  • Condition two played a non-violent game for 20 mins

All participants watched a film which showed real life violence and had their psychological responses measured. Results found that participants who had played the violent video game had reduced hear rates when watching the real-life violence. This suggests that people can become desensitised to violence even after as littler as 20 minutes. 

Low ecological validity, done in a lab however it has internal validity, it had controlled variables and also had a control group. It had experimental realism. It can  be criticised because they only saw one film, not entirely ethical. It was a western study, culture bias. 

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The Hovland-Yale model- Media persuasion

  • Attention- Must capture persons senses
  • Comprehension- Individuals must try to understand the message
  • Reactance- Person will react in a positive or negative way
  • Attitude Change- The person will be persuaded by the advert

These factors also influence attitude change:

  • The source- who provides the information
  • The message- what was said and how
  • The medium- media type
  • The target- who it is aimed at
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The Hovland-Yale model evalutated- Media persuasio


  • Been supported by many experimental studies, dominated the topic of persuasion for more than 30 years. 
  • The model makes clear predictions, and is easy to test
  • Face validity
  • More likely to buy product if  its advertised by attractive people 
  • More likely to be persuaded by an expert (source)
  • It is still used in advertising today.


  • Agreed that persuasion takes place in stages, although disagreement on what these stages are.
  • model has emphasised people as cognitive misers 
  • Messages that are not deliberately targeted at people are more persuasive
  • Does not account for individual differences
  • It is a broad model
  • It does not say how the persuasion actually takes place.
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The elaboration likelihood model- media persuasion

The central route:

  • Attitude change is likely to be permanent
  • The quality of the argument is key to attitude change
  • Carefully consider any counter arguments
  • This involves a lot of thought and cognitive effort
  • The person follows the argument closely 

The peripheral Route:

  • They respond to cues and short cuts to reduce cognitive effort
  • Attitude change is likely to be temporary
  • This involves a minimum amount of thought and cognitive effort
  • The person does not pay much attention to the media argument
  •  The person does not follow the argument closely 
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Strengths of the elaboration likelihood model- med

Petty and Cacioppo (1986) - Argued that people who are 'high in need of cognition' are more likely to use the central route. 

Tesser and Shaffer (1990)- Have further argued that factors including personal relevance and direct experience influence whether or not a person will engage in central processing. 

Vidrine, Simmons and Brandon (2007)- 225 students smokers took part. Exposed to 3 conditions; fact-based leaflet emphasising smoking risks, an emotion-based leaflet emphasising smoking risks, and a control condition. 

Students will a high need for cognition responded better to the fact-based leaflet. This suggests that those students had read and considered the argument presented. Those students with a low need for cognition responded better to the emotion based leaflet. 

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Weaknesses of the elaboration likelihood model- me

  • Views people as cognitive misers 
  • Ignores use of both routes
  • Does not take into account of individual differences
  • Dual process models of attitude change perceive attitudes as belonging to other individuals. 
  • Based on western studies, un-generalisable 
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Attraction to Celebrities

MuCutcheon et al. (2002)- to escape realitiy and a search for personal identitiy. 

McCann (2001)- Individuals that have been insecurely attached in early stages of their lives are more likely to attach to a celebrity figure, as they feel they will not be rejected. 

Jenkins and Jenson (1992)- This views celebrity attraction as an inspiration, teaching individuals social skills. 

Maltby et al (2001)- people used the celebrity relationship to 'soothe the empty self'. 

Evolutionary explanation- People imitate or look up to others who have powerful advantages, as they did in the past. 

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Measuring attraction to Celebrities

McCutcheon (2002)- devised the CAS scale which contained 23 items.

Level 1 (the entertainment/ social level) 10 items scale

  • The individual is attracted to the celebrity as a form of entertainment
  • They follow the celebrity as a source of fun

Level 2 (The intense personal level) 9 item scale 

  • The individual becomes intensely engaged with the celebrity
  • The numbers of individuals fitting this level are fairly small

Level 3 (borderline pathological) 4 item scale

  • The individual contacts the celebrity and is likely to visit their home.
  • Things can get out of hand very quickly
  • Very small number of people fit into this category, individual may become a stalker. 
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good notes 

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