Does TV affect your view of the world?


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Cultivation research has identified several misrepresentations on television and has shown that the more people watch television, the more their beliefs correspond to the television world. In recent years, experimental research has demonstrated that fictional narratives are powerful means to change audience beliefs. Theories on the narrative structure of fictional narratives and disposition-based theories of media enjoyment suggest that televised fictional narratives tend to portray the world as a just place. We propose that the amount of fiction watched on television predicts the belief in a just world (BJW). Further, we assume this effect to be compatible with the television use/mean-world relationship expressed by cultivation theory. Two cross-sectional studies with N = 128 participants (German sample) and N = 387 (Austrian sample) corroborate our assumptions. The self-reported frequency of watching fiction on television was positively related to the BJW, whereas the general amount of television viewing was positively related to mean- and scary-world beliefs. In the German sample, mean-world beliefs were also affected by viewing tabloid-style (infotainment) television news.

Source: “Fictional Narratives Cultivate Just-World Beliefs” from Journal of Communication, Volume 58, Issue 1, pages 62–83, March 2008

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