Outline and evaluate the role of media in addictive behaviour. (25 marks)
A lot of research has been conducted into the effects media have on addictive behaviour, enabling us to have a better understanding of this important influence on dependency behaviours. Much of this research focuses on social learning effects, for example Charlton (1986) found viewing cigarette advertisements made children associate smoking with looking grown up and having confidence, suggesting that media influences lead to addiction. However, the media also has positive influences on addictive behaviours, like the use of positive role models and education.
Gunsekera et al. (2005) found drug taking in films is shown in a positive fashion with little reference to possible negative consequences, suggesting that the media can influence dependency behaviour in a negative manner. However, Roberts (2002) found contradictory evidence, as drug taking in music videos was fairly uncommon, portraying the behaviour in a neutral manner, though this could actually increase drug usage by demonstrating it to be a normal behaviour.
Although the media can help to inform about the risks of addiction, there is a danger that addicts will be demonized through media-created moral panics, seriously affecting the chances of addicts receiving enough social support to help them quit, or seeking treatment in the first place. Another danger is that of misinformation, with the National Pain Foundation (2008) finding that the media confuses issues surrounding the addictive properties of painkilling drugs, leading to chronic under-treatment of pain.
An aspect of media, advertisements, can be used to sell alcohol or cigarettes, whereby the media portrays people who drink to be sophisticated. Up to the 80’s, adverts also said that people that smoke were glamorous and successful. Chapman (1982) found that underage smokers were influenced by adverts and were more likely to smoke the brands that have been in...