Cultivation Theory Essay

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1.0 INTRODUCTION OF CULTIVATION THEORY Cultivation theory is a social theory which examined the long-term effects of television on American audiences of all ages. Developed by George Gerbner and Larry Gross of the University of Pennsylvania, cultivation theory derived from several large-scale research projects as part of an overall research project entitled 'Cultural Indicators'. The purpose of the Cultural Indicators project was to identify and track the 'cultivated' effects of television on viewers. At a very basic level, cultivation theory focuses on the role of the media in shaping how people perceive their social environment. Research in social psychology has highlighted many variables that can influence how people interpret their social environment, including attitudes (Fazio, Roskos-Ewoldsen, and Powell, 1994), social norms (Cialdini and Trost, 1998), and accessible constructs (Higgins, 1996). So the idea that various psychological and sociological factors influence how people understand their social environment is well-established. However, cultivation theory maintains that TV operates as the primary socializing agent in today’s world (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, Signorielli, and Shanahan, 2002). In other words, the culture that people learn is influenced heavily by the culture portrayed on TV. This is especially so for heavy viewers of TV. Cultivation theory also maintains that culture influences what is shown on TV so that there is a dynamic between TV and culture in that they can be mutually reinforcing, although this aspect has not been emphasized in previous research. However, it will become more important from a mental models perspective.Much of the early research on cultivation theory focused on the influence of TV violence on perceptions of social reality. According to cultivation theory, heavy viewers of TV should see the world as a more violent

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