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Media influences on prosocial behaviour

Explanations for media influences on prosocial behaviour

Exposure to prosocial behaviour

  • commonly reported statistic is the high prevalence of violent acts reported on television
  • in one content analysis, two thirds of the children's programmes sampled contained at least one act of violence
  • despite moral panic over the antisocial content of popular televison programmes, there is clear evidence of a comparable level of prosocial content as well 
  • Greenberg (1980) analysed popular children's programmes in the US and found an equivalent number of prosocial and antisocial acts in any hour

Acquisition of prosocial behaviour and norms

  • major claim of social learning theory (Bandura 1962) is that we learn by observation how to do things and when it is acceptable to do them
  • may then imitate those behaviours and the consequence of our behaviour will determine the likelihood of us repeating the behaviours
  • unlike the deception of antisocial acts on television, prosocial acts are more likely to represent established social norms
  • such prosocial are likely to reinforce our social norms rather than contrast with them
  • also means we are more likely to be rewarded for imitating prosocial acts for antisocial acts
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Media influences on prosocial behaviour

Explanations for media influences on prosocial behaviour

Developmental factors

  • research suggests many skills that are synonymous with prosocial behaviour such as perspective taking, empathy, moral reasoning, develop through childhood and into adolescence (Eisenberg 1990)
  • Consequently, may expect strong developmental differences in the degree to which children of different ages are influenced by prosocial content they view on television or other media
  • means younger children may be less affected by prosocial portrayals in the media than older children

Parental mediation

  • significance of parent mediation aws recognised by the BBC with early children's programmes such as 'Watch with Mother'
  • Austin (1993) argued effective mediation involves the parent discussing the programme with the child, explaining any ambiguous or disturbing material and following up concepts presented in the programme
  • has been shown to enhance the learning effect of 'Sesame Street' (Rice et al 1990)
  • Rosenkoetter (1999) suggested that with parental mediation, children as young as 7 were able to understand complex messages contained in adult sitcoms
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Media influences on prosocial behaviour

Research studies of prosocial media

Altruism (e.g sharing, offering help)

  • studies of the effects of television on altruistic behaviour typically involve explicit modelling of very specific behaviours
  • Sprafkin et al (1975) showed young children who watched at episode of 'Lassie' where a child rescued a dog were more likely to help puppies in distress than children who watched a neutral TV programme
  • Concluded that children who saw prosocial content behave more altruistically than those who viewed neutral or antisocial contact (Mares)

Self-control (resistance to temptation, task persistence)

  • Mares found when exposed to a TV model demonstrating self control, children subsequently showed higher levels of self control in their own behaviour
  • Friedrich and Stein (1973) found that 4 year old children who watched 'Mister Rogers' Neighbourhood' over 4 weeks subsequently showed more task persistence and obedience to rules than those who watched aggressive cartoons or neutral programmes over same period
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Media influences on prosocial behaviour

Research studies of prosocial media

Positive interaction (e.g friendly interactions, peaceable conflict resolution)

  • in the study by Friedrich and Stein, observers watched the children at play, counting number of aggressive acts, friendly behaviours, expressions of affection etc
  • those who had watched the prosocial programme behaved more positively towards each other than those who had seen the neutral programme

Anti-stereotyping

  • typical study was Johnston and Ettema (1982)
  • conducted large scale study involving several thousand 9-12 year old children
  • children watched the TV series 'Freestyle'
  • watched once a week for 13 weeks
  • overall, there were moderate positive effects in studies such as this
  • featured counter-stereotypical themes
  • children became less stereotyped or prejudiced in their attitudes or beliefs
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Media influences on prosocial behaviour

Evaluation

Exposure to prosocial behaviour

  • Woodard (1999) found US programmes for preschool children did have high levels of prosocial content
  • 77% of programmes surveyed contained at least one prosocial lesson
  • survey also found that only 4 of the top 20 most watched TV programmes for under 17s contained any prosocial lessons

Acquisition of prosocial behaviours and norms

  • some studies of prosocial effects looked at one shot exposures to a prosocial model
  • in general, findings are that children are most affected when they are shown the exact steps for positive behaviour, such as being shown someone donating tokens (Mares and Woodard 2001)
  • may be because they remember concrete acts better than abstract ones
  • Counter-evidence provided by Rubenstein and Sprafkin (1982)
  • study of adolescents hospitalised for psychiatric problems
  • found that post-viewing discussion lead to decreased altruism
  • possibly because adolescents have tendency to take up a view counter to that held by adults
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Media influences on prosocial behaviour

Evaluation

Developmental factors

  • despite expectation that younger children would be least affected by prosocial programming, meta analysis by Mares (1996) found that the weakest effect was for adolescents and strongest for primary school children
  • effects for preschool children were immediate
  • expectation media may have an effect at all on development of prosocial reasoning may be unrealistic
  • children may not be ready to absorb such info as they are likely to be more strongly affected by home experiences than by media exposure

Parental mediation

  • Valkenburg et al (1999) suggest only some forms of parental mediation would be effective in enhancing the prosocial messages in TV programmes
  • found that in 'social co-viewing', parents and children might watch together but do not discuss the content
  • this type of mediation is largely ineffective as a means of modifying children's interpretation of television
  • only in conditions of 'instructive mediation' which involves discussion and explanation, can the parent be described as an effective mediator between TV and the child
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Media influences on prosocial behaviour

Evaluation

Prosocial vs antisocial effects

Lack of generalisation

  • Mares study found that children are more likely to generalise after watching aggressive acts than after watching prosocial acts on television
  • may watch a specific violent act on television and then express their own aggressive behaviour in a totally different way 
  • prosocial acts tend to be imitated directly, with little evidence of generalisation to other forms of prosocoail behaviour
  • lack of generalisation limits the overall effectiveness of prosocial messages in the media

Problem of mixed messages

  • Lovelace and Huston (1983) suggested prosocial effects can be achieved by setting prosocial goals against antisocial ones in the same programme
  • seems that mixing prosocial and antisocial messages somehow reduces the effectiveness of the prosocial message
  • Mares and Woodards' meta analysis found children who watched mixed messages behaved more aggresively than children who watched aggression only
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Media influences on antisocial behaviour

Psychological explanations for media influences on antisocial behaviour

Observational learning and imitation

  • children observe the actions of media models and may later imitate these behaviours, especially when the child admires and identifies with the model
  • TV may also inform viewers of the positive and negative consequences of violent behaviour
  • children can be expected to imitate violent behaviour that is successful in gaining the model's objectives
  • the more real children perceive violent televised scenes to be, the more they beleive the characters are like them (identification)
  • they will therefore be more likely to try out the behaviour they have learned
  • Philips (1983) examined crime statistics for the 10 day period following televised heavyweight boxing contests
  • found a significant rise in the number of murders during that period
  • there was no such rise after televised SuperBowl contests
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Media influences on antisocial behaviour

Psychological explanations for media influences on antisocial behaviour

Cognitive priming

  • refers to the activation of existing aggressive thoughts and feelings
  • explains why children observe one kind of aggression on TV and commit another kind of aggressive act afterwards
  • immediately after a violent programme, viewer is primed to respond aggressively because a network of memories involving aggression is retrieved
  • frequent exposure to scenes of violence may lead children to store scripts for aggressive behaviour in their memories
  • these may be recalled in a later situation if any aspect of the original situation is present

Desensitisation

  • argument assumes that under normal conditions, anxiety about violence inhibits its use
  • media violence may stimulate aggressive behaviour by densensitising children to the effects of violence
  • the more televised violence a child watches, the more acceptable aggressive behaviour becomes for that child
  • someone who becomes desensitised to violence may perceive it as more 'normal' and be more likely to engage in violence themselves
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Media influences on antisocial behaviour

Psychological explanations for media influences on antisocial behaviour

Lowered physiological arousal

  • large scale studies of this explanation have consistently found that there are stronger desensitisation effects for males than there are for females 
  • Huesmann and moise report boys who are heavy TV watchers show lower-than-average physiological arousal in response to new scenes of violence
  • arousal stimulated by viewing violence is unpleasant at first
  • children who constantly watch violent television become used to it and their emotional and physiological responses decline
  • as a result, don't react in the same way to violent behaviour and are less inhibited in using it

Justification

  • violent behaviours on television may provide a justification for a child's own violent behaviour, or they may provide moral guidelines concerning what is acceptable and what is unacceptable
  • ability to judge issues involving harm to others is primarily acquired through social transmission, including exposure to moral messages on TV and other media
  • justification of violence in media is, therefore, one of the ways children can infer standards of acceptable behaviour
  • children who behave aggressively may watch violent programmes to relieve their guilt and justify their own aggression
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Media influences on antisocial behaviour

Evaluation

Observational learning

  • Bandura's research supports the view that children learn through specific acts of aggression
  • also learn increased aggressiveness through imitating models, even when such models are not real 
  • Bandura found moderate levels of aggression when the model was a cartoon character
  • such imitation is actually quite rare outside of Bandura-style studies using specially prepared videos
  • there have been anecdotal claims of copycat acts of violence but no real evidence for this
  • two boys who murdered James Bulger (1993) were said to be inspired by the video 'Child's Play' but Cumberbatch (2001) reports no known link was ever found

Cognitive priming

  • importance of cognitive priming was demonstrated in a study by Josephson (1987) 
  • hockey players were deliberately frustrated and shown a violent or non-violent film where an actor held a walkie-talkie
  • in a subsequent hockey game the boys behaved most aggressively if they had seen the violent film and the referee in the game was holding a walkie talkie
  • presumably, the walkie talkie acted as a cue for aggression
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Media influences on antisocial behaviour

Evaluation

Densensitisation 

  • Cumberbatch (2001) argues that people might get 'used' to screen violence
  • this does not mean a person will get used to violence in the real world
  • claims that screen violence is more liekly to make children 'frightened' than 'frightening

Lowered physiological arousal

  • has been claimed that watching violence leads to increased arousal and thus more aggression
  • excitation-transfer model suggests that arousal creates a readiness to aggress if there are appropriate circumstances (Zillmann 1988)
  • some theorists (e.g Feshbach and Singer 1971) believe watching violence has beneficial, cathartic effects
  • arousal allows one to release pent-up aggressive energies

Justification

  • many TV programmes have mixed prosocial and antisocial messages
  • e.g 1980s TV series 'The A Team' showed good guys behaving violently
  • Liss and Reinhardt (1979) suggest the negative effects of such programmes support the concept of justification 
  • use of aggression by prosocial characters leads to moral justification to their violence, with which children readily identify
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The effects of computers and video games

The negative effects

Video games and aggression

Experimental studies

  • lab experiments have found short-term increases in levels of physiological arousal, hostile feelings and aggressive behaviour following violent game play compared to non-violent game play (Gentile and Stone 2005)
  • aggressive behaviour cannot be studied directly as it is not permitted on ethical grounds
  • therefore, other forms of behaviour must be used instead
  • e.g Participants blasted their opponents with white noise for longer and rated themselves higher on the State Hostility Scale after playing Wolfenstein 3D (violent first person shooter) compared to those who played Myst (slow paced puzzle game) Anderson and Dill 2000

Longitudinal studies

  • Anderson et al (2007) surveyed 430 children aged between 7 and 9 at two points during the school year
  • children who had high exposure to violent video games became more verbally and physically aggressive and less prosocial (rated by themselves, peers and teachers)
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The effects of computers and video games

The negative effects

Video games and aggression

Meta-analyses on the video games and aggression link

  • several meta-analyses have found a consistent link between violent game play and aggressive behaviour
  • this association appears to hold for children and adults (Gentile and Anderson 2003)
  • might be expected that there would be larger effects with newer studies, as games have become more violent over time
  • in the Gentile and Anderson study, this was the pattern found, with earlier studies showing smaller effect sizes than more recent studies
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The effects of computers and video games

The negative effects

Computers: Facebook use

Facebook friends and stress

  • Charles (2011) used focus group and interview techniques to investigate the FB habits of 200 undergrads in Scotland
  • significant number (12%) experienced anxiety linked to use of the site
  • majority who reported anxiety had significantly more friends than other users
  • reported stress from deleting unwanted contacts, constant pressure to be funny/entertaining and worrying about proper type of etiquette toward different friends
  • of the students surveyed, 32% stated rejecting requests made them feel guilty/uncomfortable
  • 10% reported they disliked receiving friend requests
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The effects of computers and video games

The negative effects

Evaluation

Negative effects of video games

Problems with research evidence

  • major weakness of lab experiments in this area is that researchers cannot measure 'real life; aggression
  • must use measures of aggrssive behaviour that have no relationship to real life aggression
  • can only measure short-term effects
  • longitudinal studies are able to observe real-life patterns of behaviour and document both short term and long term effects
  • problem for most longitudinal studies in this area is that Ps may be exposed to other forms of media violence during the course of the study
  • means that the effect from violent video game exposure alone is uncertain
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The effects of computers and video games

Evaluation

The negative effects of Facebook use

Facebook use and college grades

  • Karpinski acknowledges that her study does not suggest that excessive FB use directly causes lower grades, merely there is some relationship between the two
  • suggests that other personality factors are likely to be involved
  • perhaps FB users are simply prone to distraction
  • Greenfield (2009) argued that social networks such as Facebook 'infantilise' the brain by shortening the attention span and providing constant instant gratification
  • as yet, has failed to provide evidence to support this claim
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The effects of computers and video games

Evaluation

The negative effects of Facebook use

Facebook use and stress

  • stress associated with FB use has been supported in a case study of 18 year old asthmatic man whose condition was stable until he split up with his girlfriend and she dleted him on Facebook (D'Amato et al 2010)
  • became depressed and changed his FB name to become friends with her again
  • after logging onto site and seeing her picture, maximum breath force was reduced, a sign of his asthma worsening
  • case indicates social networking sites such as FB could be a significant source of psychological stress
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The effects of computers and video games

The positive effects

Video games and prosocial behaviour

Helping behaviour

  • research has shown that playing a prosocial game can increase helping behaviour
  • Osswald (2010) demonstrated that participants who played the prosocial game 'Lemmings' displayed significantly more prosocial behaviour than those who played an aggressive game (Lamers) or a neutral game (Tetris)
  • after playing the respective video game for 8 minutes, participants saw the researcher accidentally knock a cup of pencils off a table and onto the floor
  • of those who played the prosocial game, 67% helped to pick up the pencils
  • only 33% of those who played the neutral game helped
  • 28% of those who played the aggressive game
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The effects of computers and video games

The positive effects

Video games and prosocial behaviour

Multiplayer games and social commitment

  • games that involve other players offer the possibility of social outcomes
  • Kahne et al (2008) found that the majority of those who listed 'The Sims' as a favourite game said they learned about problems in society and explored social issues while playing computer games
  • Lenhart et al (2008) carried out large scale US survey to investigate the influence of multiplayer game play on social commitment
  • found that 64% of those who played multiplayer gams such as Halo or Sims were committed to civic participation, compared to 19% of solo players
  • found that those who regularly took part in social interaction related to the game were more committed civically and politically 
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The effects of computers and video games

The positive effects

Computers: Facebook use

Facebook and self esteem

  • Gonzales and Hancock (2011) argue that FB walls can have a positive influence on our self esteem
  • in a study at Cornell University in the US, students wre given 3 minutes to...
  • 1) use their Facebook
  • 2) look at themselves in the mirror
  • 3) do nothing
  • those who had gone on their FB subsequently gave much more positive feedback about themselves than the other two groups
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The effects of computers and video games

Evaluation

The positive effects of video games

Why don't prosocial games have more of an effect?

  • Osswald (2010) suggested that 85% of games involve some kind of violence
  • therefore, although the content of prosocial games can cause behavioural shifts in an altruistic direction, people who play video gaems are much less likely to experience this type of game, partly because they're seen as less attractive
  • video game industry is less likely to produce such games purely for commerical reasons

Methodological limitations

  • problem for surveys in game research concerns the lack of controls for young people's prior civic commitments and prosocial activities
  • lack of random exposure to civic gaming opportunities also limits our ability to make causal claims about how games or features of games influence the development of social and civic responsibilities
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The effects of computers and video games

Evaluation

The positive effects of video games

Therapeutic applications of video games

  • video games have been successfully used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress
  • Virtual Iraq computer game is a 'fully-immersive' computer simulation
  • allows soldiers suffering post traumatic stress disorder to relieve and confront psychological trauma in a low threat context
  • researchers have also discovered that playing the game Tetris minimises the minds tendency to flash back to memories of traumatic events

Positive effects of Facebook use

How does Facebook use increase self esteem?

  • one explanation comes from the Hypoerpersonal Model (Walther 1996)
  • claims self-selection of the info we choose to interpret through ourselves can have a positive influence in self esteem
  • computer mediated communication offers people an opportunity for positive self esteem
  • feedback left on their 'wall' is invariably positive
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

The Hovland Yale Model

  • Carl Hovland discovered that effective persuasion could be achieved by focusing on who says what to whom

Applying the Hovland-Yale model

The source

  • one important source characteristic is the attractiveness of the communicator
  • social psychological research has shown that attractive communicators are more persuasive than less attractive communicators (Petty and Cacioppo 1986)

The message

  • Putwain and Symes (2011) investigated whether classroom fear appeals influenced examination performance among a sample of secondary school students
  • when fear appeals emphasised a 'mastery' approach (included advice on how to make the most of the time before the exam) their frequency was positively related to examination performance
  • when they were perceived as threatening, i.e creating greater test anxiety, they were negatively related to examination performance
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

The Hovland-Yale Model

The audience

  • Younger people are more susceptible to persuasive messages than adults or the elderly
  • this has implications for the use of children as witnesses, for example in child abuse cases
  • attitudes can readily be altered by misleading information (Loftus 2003)
  • children appear to be more susceptible to the persuasive power of advertising
  • Martin (1997) found that whereas older children had a good understanding or the persuasive intent of advertisements, younger children did not
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

Evaluation

Attractive sources are not necessarily the most influential

  • research on product endorsement suggests that celebrities are not as effective as we might imagine given the predictions of the Hovland-Yale model
  • O'Mahony and Meenaghan (1997) found that celebrity endorsements were not regarded as particularly convincing or believable
  • Hume (1992) concluded that celeb endorsement of a product doesn't signifcantly increase the persuasive communication of the advert

Fear appeals do work

  • research has shown fear appeals can be persuasive if they do not petrify the audience with fear and if the audience is informed how to avoid the danger
  • supported in real-life anti drug campaign
  • 2008, Australian government launched phase 4 of a campaign to warn young people about the dangers of meth
  • campaign used moderate fear with explicit images, scenes and consequences
  • also emphasised choice as well as opportunities for positive attitude formation and change
  • although phase is ongoing, earlier phase covering marijuana and ecstasy found 78% 13-24 yr olds felt campaign changed how they felt about drugs
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

Evaluation

Gender bias in persuasion research

  • Research suggests women are more susceptible to persuasive communications than men
  • Eagly and Carli (1981) explained this in terms of socialisation differences
  • women are socialised to conform and therefore are more open to social influence 
  • Sitrunk and McDavid (1971) claimed studies find women more easily presuaded because in most cases the topic was one with which men were more familiar
  • women would not be susceptible to persuasive communications if the topic was one with which they were familar (and men were not)
  • Karabenick (1983) provided evidence to support this claim, finding that influence varied with item content
  • males were oinfluenced more with feminine content
  • females more with masculine content
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

The Elaboration-Likelihood Model

  • Petty and Cacioppo (1981) suggested two different routes to persuasion, depending on whether audience in likely to focus on the message itself or on other factors
  • these could include how attractive or credible the source appears to be
  • if an audience is likely to focus on the arguments, then a central route to persuasion is more appropriate
  • if they focus more on the context of the message than the message itself, then a peripheral route is more likely to be effective
  • when processing by this route, individuals are influenced more by contextual cues
  • Cacioppo and Petty suggest that some people enjoy analysing arguments (high need for cognition)
  • are more likely to focus on the quality of the arguments than their context
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

The Elaboration-Likelihood Model

Applying the ELM

Online shopping

  • Lin et al (2011) asked 263 Taiwanese students to take part in an online shopping study in a virtual shopping mall
  • each student had to select (for purchase) a mobile phone based on consumer reviews that had previously been selected from Amazon
  • reviews for each phone differed in terms of quality and the quantity of reviews
  • students also completed a 'need for cognition' measure
  • both quality and quantity of reviews positively influenced purchasing intention
  • students were more likely to buy a phone that had a large number of high quality reviews
  • consistent with predictions from the ELM, high NC students placed a greater importance on review quality rather than quantity of reviews when making their decision
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

The Elaboration-Likelihood Model

Applying the ELM

Health campaigns

  • Vidrine et al (2007) showed that NC is also a relevant factor in real life health campaigns
  • students were exposed either to a fact based (central route) or emotion based (peripheral route) smoking risk campaign
  • those with higher NC were more influenced by the fact-based message (the central route)
  • participants with low NC were more influenced by the emotion based message (peripheral route)
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

The Elaboration-Likelihood Model

Evaluation

Online shopping: lessons learned

  • Lin et al's research finding contributes to a better understanding of the effect of online reviews
  • peripheral route perspective demonstrates the importance of generating as many reviews as possible for a low need for cognition audience
  • knowledge of the demographic profile of a target audience can guide internet marketers to design appropriate promotional materials and review formats in order to influence online shoppers effectively

Peripheral route influence may only be temporary

  • 1991, prominent US basketball layer Earvin 'Magic' Johnson announced he was HIV positive
  • at time of announcement,Louis Penner and Barbara Fritzsche had just finished collecting data on participants' willingness to help a person with the AIDS virus
  • found no university students volunteered when asked to help an AIDS victim on a school project
  • one week after Magic Johnson's announcement, helping rate soared to 83%
  • 4 and a half months after announcement, helping rate was back to preannouncement levels
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Explaining the persuasive effects of media

The Elaboration-Likelihood Model

Evaluation

Why do people sometimes take the peripheral route?

  • Fiske and Taylor (1984) claim that most human beings are essentially cognitive misers in that they frequently rely on simple and time-efficient strategies when evaluating information and making decisions
  • if the content of a message is not personally important, individuals are more likely to be influenced by contextual cues
  • when the content is more important, they are better motivated to process the message more carefully
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Explanations for the persuasiveness of TV advertis

Persuasiveness of TV advertising

Hard sell and soft sell advertising

  • Hard sell - presenting factual information about a product
  • Soft sell - using more subtle and creative persuasive techniques
  • Snyder and DeBono (1985) found hard sell and soft sell approaches had different effects on different types of people
  • people who scored highly on a test of 'self monitoring' had more favourable attitudes to soft sell adverts
  • people low in self monitoring i.e less image conscious preferred factual, hard sell approaches

Product endorsement

  • Fowles (1996) estimated that in 1990, 20% of TV commericals used celeb product endorsements
  • Giles (2003) suggests that celebs provide a familiar face - a reliable source of info we feel we can trust because of the parasocial relationship we have built up with that celebrity
  • O'Mahony and Meenhagan found that in general, celeb endorsements were not overly convincing or believable
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Explanations for the persuasiveness of TV advertis

The persuasiveness of TV advertising

Children and advertising

  • Martin (1997) in a meta analysis of studies, found a strong positive correlation between age and understanding of persuasive intent
  • older children could discriminate better between commericals and regular programming
  • better understood the persuasive intent of the commercials and trusted them less

Importance of congruence

  • Bushman (2007) suggests that TV advertisements may be better remembered if there is a congruence between the programme content and the content of the ad
  • e.g people may be more likely to remember adverts if they are embedded within programmes with the same type of content
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Explanations for the persuasiveness of TV advertis

The persuasiveness of TV advertising

Sex, violence and persuasive advertisements

  • advertisers are especially interested in making commercials persuasive for viewers in the 18-34 years old bracket
  • viewers are believed to be more susceptible to commerical influence because they have less well established purchasing habits and more disposable income than older viewers (Hamilton 1998)
  • younger viewers also watch less TV than older viewers, so advertisers embed commercial messages in programmes younger viewers like to watch, such as those containing sex/violence
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Explanations for the persuasiveness of TV advertis

Evaluation

Hard vs soft sell advertising

  • Okazaki et al (2010) carried out a meta analysis of over 75 investigations to test whether hard sell or soft sell adverts were more persuasive in terms of attitude toward a product
  • found that as hard sell techniques focus on specific, factual information, viewers generally find them more believable
  • as soft sell techinques are focused more on generating positive emotions, they are associated with more positive attitudes towards the product than hard sell techniques
  • Okazaki et al also established that hard sell techniques have a greater capacity to irritate viewers by being more direct, provocative or confrontational, thus decreasing their ability to persuade

Does product endorsement work?

  • research on celeb endorsement suggests that is it not as persuasive as we may think
  • study by Martin et al (2008) found that their student participants were more convinced by a TV endorsement from a fictional fellow student when buying a digital camera than by one from a celebrity
  • researchers claimed young people like to make sure their product is fashionable among people who resemble them
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Explanations for the persuasiveness of TV advertis

The persuasiveness of TV advertising

Evaluation

Limitations of celebrity endorsement research

  • Erfgen (2011) claims research on the persuasiveness of celebrity endorsement has tended to focus more on the characteristics of the celebrity and less on the characteristics of the message communicated by the advertisement
  • Erfgen argues that a celebrity may be portrayed as endorsing a product in a different number of ways
  • e.g may endorse it in an explicit mode 'I endorse this product' 
  • implicit mode 'I use this product'
  • or a co-present mode - celeb and product are depicted simultaneously without further explanation
  • research has not considered these endorsement modes in order to determine whether one type is more persuasive than the others
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Explanations for the persuasiveness of TV advertis

The persuasiveness of TV advertising

Evaluation

Disentangling media and other effects

  • Pine and Nash found a positive correlation between exposure to commerical television and Christmas gift requests
  • however, correlation was stronger for children who watched more TV on their own than those who watched with their parents
  • suggests parents mediate in the relationship between advertisement and subequent behaviour
  • influence of peers is also an important factor 
  • conversations with friends abuot the things they have seen in TV adverts inevitably shape subsequent behaviour
  • consequently, becomes difficult, if not impossible, to confidently predict a direct causal reelationship between exposure to advertisements and subequent consumer behaviour among children
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Explanations for the persuasiveness of TV advertis

Persuasiveness of television advertising

The impact of advertising

  • Giles (2003) points out that the reason television and cinema advertising have been so successful is due to the fact their adverts generally have a captive audience
  • unlike cinema audiences, TV audiences have more options open to them when it comes to the viewing of adverts
  • Comstock and Scharrer (1999) found 80% of viewers were likely to leave the room when the adverts came on 
  • when programmes were recorded, viewers tended to fast forward through the adverts, thereby minimising their impact
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The attraction of celebrity

Social-psychological explanations

Parasocial relationships

  • parasocial relationship is one in which an individual is attracted to another (usually a celebrity)
  • target individual is usually unaware of the existence of the person who has created the relationship (Horton and Wohl 1956)
  • such relationships, common among celebrities and their fans, might be particularly appealing to some individuals as relationship make few demands
  • fan doesn't usually have a 'real' relationship with celeb, therefore no risk of criticism or rejection
  • this may, however, be the case in a real relationship (Ashe and McCutcheon 2001)

What determines the likelihood of a parasocial relationship?

  • Schiappa et al (2007) carried out meta analysis of studies of parasocial relationships
  • from this, concluded parasocial relationships were most likely to form with television celebrities who were seen as attractive and similar in some way to the viewer
  • important factor was that they were perceived as real or acted in a believable way
  • Schiappa et al believed that if the celeb acted in believable way, viewers were able to compare how they would behave in similar situations
  • also found no evidence of age being a predictor of development of PSR
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The attraction of celebrity

The 'Absorption-Addiction model'

  • according to this model (McCutcheon et al 2002) most people never go beyond admiring celebrities because of their celebrities entertainment or social value
  • motivational forces driving this absorption may eventually become addictive, leading the person to more extreme behaviours in order to sustain satisfaction with the parasocial relationship they've developed with the celebrity
  • Giles and Maltby (2006) identified three levels in this process
  • Entertainment-social: fans attracted to a favourite celebrity because of their perceived ability to entertain and become a source of social interaction and gossip
  • Intense-personal: this aspect of celeb worship reflects intensive and compulsive feelings about the celebrity
  • Borderline-pathological: dimension typified by uncontrollable behaviours and fantasies about their celebrities
  • Giles and Maltby suggest suggest that the intense-personal dimension of celebrity attraction can lead to the development of a passive-parasocial relationship
  • borderline-pathological dimension - relationship may go beyond the parasocial, with the person believing there is a real relationship between themselves and the celeb
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The attraction of celebrity

Evaluation

Parasocial relationships

  • althgouh it is commonly believed that parasocial relationships with celebrities are dysfunctional (formed on the basis of loneliness), research does not support that assumption
  • Schiappa et al's (2007) meta-analysis found that loneliness was not a predictor of the formation of parasocial relationships
  • some research suggests that people who are more socially active and socially motivated are more likely to engage in parasocial relationships than those who are not (Sood and Rogers 2000)

Benefits of parasocial relationships

  • parasocial interactions with celebrities offer many social benefits
  • provide models of social behaviour (such as intimacy and generosity)
  • offer opportunity to learn cultural values (such as importance of marriage)
  • Perse and Rubin's study of parasocial relationships with soap-opera characters found that due to the fact people are exposed to same charaters are exposed to same characters over and over again, one benefit of PSRs is a perceived reduction in uncertainty about social relationships
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The attraction of celebrity

Evaluation

The absorption-addiction model: links to mental health

  • Maltby et al (2003) used the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) to assess the relationship between level of celebrity worship and personality 
  • found that whereas the entertainment-social level was associated with extraversion, intense personal level was associated with neuroticism
  • as neuroticism is related to anxiety and depression, this provides a clear explanation of why higher levels of celeb worship are related to poorer mental health
  • Maltby et al suggest that future research might explore the implications of a reported connection between the borderline-pathological level of celebrity worship and psychoticism, as measured on the EPQ
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The attraction of celebrity

Evolutionary explanations

Attraction to creative individuals

  • human beings possess a love of novelty
  • for females choosing a mate, this would have led to a demand for ever-more creative displays from potential partners
  • mate choice in the EEA (environment of evolutionary adaptation) could well have favoured creative courtship displays, which would explain many of the characteristics that are universally and uniquely developed in humans e.g music, art, humour (Miller 1998)
  • Miller (2000) argued that although natural selection favours the development of skills that enhance survival, sexual selection might favour minds prone to creativity and fantasy
  • celebrities represent this world of fantasy so we are attracted to them because of their association with it
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The attraction of celebrity

Evolutionary explanations

Celebrity gossip

  • exchange of social information about other group members might have been adaptive for our ancestors when they started living in larger social groups
  • this exchange of information is what we now refer to as 'gossip'
  • De Backer (2005) suggests that gossip creates bonds within social groups and serves a similar adaptive function to social grooming by intiating and maintaining alliances
  • gossip also functions to construct and manipulate reputations
  • manipulates reputations particularly of rivals and to exchange information about potential mates
  • Barkow (1992) suggests that our minds are fooled into regarding media characters as being members of our social netowkr
  • thus, celebrities trigger the same gossip mechanisms that have evolved to keep up with the affairs of ingroup members
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The attraction of celebrity

Evolutionary explanations

Evaluation

Evidence for an evolved love of creativity

  • Shiraishi et al (2006) discovered an enzyme correlated with novelty-seeking tendencies
  • genetic differences mean that people produce different variations of an enzyme called MAOA (monoamine oxidase A)
  • researchers found that one form of this enzyme was significantly associated with higher scores of novelty seeking
  • suggests there may be a genetic origin for neophilia and our attraction to creative people

Arbitrary nature of sexual selection explanations

  • suggesting that a love of novelty, and therefore an attraction to creative people, arose because early females preferred creative behaviour in potential mates, tells us nothing about why they would prefer it
  • sexual selection explanations are arbitrary because they argue that traits are preferred simply because they would have been 'attractive'
  • such explanations don't provide an adequate adaptive reason to explain why traits such as creativity in music, art and humour would have been attractive to ancestral members of the opposite sex
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The attraction of celebrity

Evaluation

Research support for the adaptive role of celebrity gossip

  • De Backer (2007) surveyed over 800 participants to test evolutionary explanations for celebrity gossip 
  • participants reported that gossip was seen as a useful way of acquiring information about social group members
  • media exposure was also found to be a strong predictor of interest in celebrities
  • De Backer concluded that media exposure would lead to the misperception that celebrities were actually a part of the social network
  • thus explaining the interest in celebrity gossip
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Research into intense fandom

Celebrity worship

Measuring celebrity worship

  • most research on celebrity worship has used the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS)
  • is a 17 item scale with the lower scores indicating more individualistic behaviour and higher scores indicating over-identification and obsession with celebrities
  • Maltby et al (2006) used this scale to produce three levels of parasocial relationships 
  • entertainment-social, intense-personal, borederline-pathological

How common is celebrity worship?

  • although it is commonly assumed that celebrity worship is an uncommon phenomenon, a study by Maltby et al (2003) found over 1/3 of a combined sample of students and workers scored above the midpoints of the three subscales of the CAS
  • a later study (Maltby et al 2004) found that in a sample of 372 people aged 18-47, 15% were at the entertainment social level of celebrity worship
  • 5% were at intense-personal level
  • less than 2% would be considered borderline pathological
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Research into intense fandom

Celebrity worship

Celebrity worship and developmental problems

  • Celebrity worship has been associated with less desirable developmental outcomes
  • in telephone survey of 833 Chinese teenagers
  • Cheung and Yue (2003) found that 'idol worship' was associated with lower levels of work or study and lower self esteem
  • less successful identity achievement 
  • those teenagers who worshipped idols from television demonstrated the lowest levels of identity achievement
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Research into intense fandom

Celebrity worship

Evaluation 

The limited benefits of 'celebrity' worship

  • the Cheung and Yue study found that teenagers who 'worshipped' key family members, teachers or other individuals with whom they came into regular contact tended to demonstrate higher levels of self esteem and educational achievement than teens who worshipped TV stars

Negative consequences of celebrity worship

  • Research has shown that high-profile celebrity suicides are often followed by increased numbers of suicides among the general population
  • Sheridan et al (2007) make the point that pathological worshippers are often drawn to more entertaining, even antisocial celebs so therefore we may expect fans of more rebellious celebrities 
  • examples: Pete Doherty, Amy Winehouse
  • may seek to emulate them 
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Research into intense fandom

Evaluation

An evolutionary explanation for celebrity worship

  • evolutionary psychologists suggest that is natural for humans to look up to those individuals who receieve attention because they have succeeded in our society
  • for our ancestors, would have meant respecting good hunters and elders
  • because hunting is no longer an essential skill, may look to celebrities, whose fame and fortune we would like to emulate
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Research into intense fandom

Celebrity stalking

Types of celebrity stalker

  • two types of stalker have been identified
  • about 1 in 5 stalkers develop a love obsession or fixation with another person (such as a celebrity) with whom they have no personal relationship
  • stalkers of this type suffer from delusional thought patterns
  • many suffer from mental disorder, such as schizophrenia (Meloy 2001)
  • since most are unable to develop normal personal relationsips thorugh more conventional means, they retreat into a life of fantasy relationships with individuals they hardly know, if at all
  • may invent fictional stories, casting celebs in the lead role as their love interest
  • the second, more simple obsessional stalking type is distinguished by some previous personal relationship having existed between stalker and victim before stalking behaviour began 
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Research into intense fandom

Celebrity stalking

Attachment style

  • Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) proposed a model of adult attachment styles based on individual working models of self and others
  • individuals with the 'pre-occupied' attachment style have a negative self-model and positive other-model
  • have a poor self image and positive image of others
  • Meloy (1996) claims that celebrity stalking could be considered to be indicative of an abnormal attachment similar to the pre-occupied attachment style
  • individuals with this type of attachment style may engage in celebrity stalking because they overvalue others and perceive that contact with celebrities will indicate they are acceptable and valued
  • thus, challenging their negative views of self


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Research into intense fandom

Evaluation

Celebrity stalking

Stalking as an indication of attachment difficulties

  • Tonin (2004) provided evidence to support the proposition that celebrity stalking might be explained in terms of abnormal attachment
  • measured stalkers' retrospective childhood attachment styles and their current adult attachment using 2 self report measures
  • in order to see if stalkers detained under the Mental Health Act were less securely attached than non-stalkers, compared them to 2 other groups
  • 24 people detained in the same way but with no history of stalking
  • non-clinical community sample of 33 
  • found that the stalkers had significantly more evidence of insecure adult attachment styles than the control group 
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Research into intense fandom

Evaluation

Celebrity stalking

Real-world application

  • Roberts (2007) found that individuals with low self esteem were motivated to approach others for self-validation
  • were also more prone to celebrity stalking
  • this pattern of attachment is typical of the preoccupied attachment style identified by Bartholomew and Horowitz (1991) 
  • supports an association between preoccupied attachment and the likelihood of approach behaviour towards celebrities
  • Roberts suggests that this finding has a number of important implications
  • includes the police being able to draw a psychological profile of an unknown offender after persistent and unwanted attempts to contact a particular celebrity 
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