Addiction: Role of Media


Role of Media in Addiction

A) Media portrayals of addictive behaviour

  • These can cause controversy because of claims they glamourise addictive behaviour.
  • Gunasekera et al (2005) - surveyed the top 200 grossing films. Found films showed portrayals of drug taking in films were overwhelmingly positive and without negative consequences.
  • Social Learning Theory - learning through observation of valued role models being rewarded for their addiction provides explanation for the influence of media on addictive behaviour.
  • Film and TV representations of addictive behaviour important as they provide enduring stereotypes of addicts, for other people and for the addict. (Trainspotting is a good example)


  • Distefan et al (1999) - found the more likeable film actors/actresses who smoke (both on and off-screen) are positively correlated with their adolescent fans' decision to smoke. This shows the importance of social learning theory and imitation of valued role models in initiation of addictive behaviour.
  • Sargent and Hanewinkel (2009) - found the more adolescents are exposed to movies with smoking the more likely they are to smoke. 4384 adolescents aged 11-15 years surveyed twice, a year apart. Researchers found the individuals who had not smoked when they were first surveyed, exposure to smoking in movies was a strong and significant predictor of whether they had begun to smoke when surveyed a year later.
  • However, questionnaire study, so social desirability bias is an issue, difficult to determine the extent to which they had been exposed to smoking in moveis.
  • Not all


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