Discuss the Role of the Media in Addictive Behaviour. (5+5)

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The role of the media in addictive behaviour can be explained by social learning theory (SLT). SLT would suggest that these behaviours are through operant conditioning and vicarious reinforcement where an individual would observe role models in the media and imitate their behaviour. Behaviours such as drinking alcohol has been portrayed in the media as an acceptable social activity and often effective method for problem solving, as well as glamorising these addictive behaviours by only showing the positive effects. This is shown in Sulkunen’s study where he found that films about drug users presented scenes of drug competence and the enjoyment of taking drugs; often in direct comparison to the dullness of ordinary life. It is also argued that even anti-drugs campaigns have had an effect on the increase of drug taking rather than a decrease; Hornik found that his anti-drugs campaign only encouraged an increase in marijuana use, he then concluded that campaigns are not effective to young people due to them being frequently exposed to shocking images and that drug campaigns carry subtle messages that a lot of people are trying the drug which leads them to wanting to try it for themselves. This explanation of the role of media in addictive behaviour may help to explain why the majority of this behaviour is observed in the western world where there is the most exposure to media influences. However in Afghanistan, where there is arguably less media influences; this can therefore argue that this explanation is reductionist as it fails to account for other factors such as the role of genetic inheritance or emotions; Comings found that smokers and ex-smokers had a 48% increased incidence of the A1 variant of the DRD2 gene compared to 25% of the general population, this suggests that genetic inheritance does play a role in the initiation of addictive behaviours. The SLT

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