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CULTIVATION THEORY RESEARCHERS


Dr. George Gerbner (1919-2005)

Born in Hungary in 1919

Ph.D. in Communications- University


of Southern California

Dean of University of Pennsylvania


Annenberg School for Communication

Cultural Indicators Research Project

Cultural Environmental Movement

CULTIVATION THEORY RESEARCHERS


Dr. Larry Gross

Vice Dean and Professor at USC


Annenberg School for
Communication and Journalism

Ph.D. in Social Psychology


Colombia University

Taught at University of
Pennsylvania from 1968-2003

Co-directed Cultural Indicators


Project from 1971-1991 with
George Gerbner

DEVELOPMENT OF THEORY

1960s- High interest in studying


media effects of television in the
1960s
1967- National Commission on the
Causes and Prevention of Violence
1972- Scientific Advisory Committee
on Television and Social Behavior

Concern over societal influences of


television

Examined relationship between


media consumption, and violence
and aggression

DEVELOPMENT OF THEORY

Gerbner first used Cultivation in 1969


Cultivation Analysis did not become a theory until several years later

Suggested that mass communication cultivates shared beliefs about


reality held by consumers of mass communication
Knowledge does not come from experience
Stories from media form basis of knowledge
Television as a ritualistic and religious experience

Cultivation Theory was a response to societal beliefs that media effects


were limited

Transmissional Perspective
Media sends messages across spaces for an audience

Ritual Perspective
Media represents shared beliefs of the audience

CULTIVATION THEORY

Television is an important factor in how people understand the


outside world
Most information comes from media, not firsthand experience
Media shapes ones sense of reality

Television is a huge cultural force because of its pervasiveness


in daily life

Television and Violence


Heavy TV viewers understand the world as more violent than it
actually is
Lighter viewers perceive the world as a less violent than heavy
viewers

Predicts and explains how beliefs, understandings, and


perceptions of the world are formed and created by consuming
messages from media

CULTIVATION THEORY

CULTIVATION THEORY

CULTIVATION THEORY

South Park: The Ghost of Human Kindness:


http://southpark.cc.com/clips/104375/the-ghost-of-humankindness

ASSUMPTIONS OF CULTIVATION THEORY


Three primary assumptions of
Cultivation Theory:

Television is different from


other forms of mass media

Television shapes how


society thinks and how
individuals relate to other
people

Televisions influence is
limited

DIFFERENCES FROM OTHER MASS MEDIA


Accessibility:

Cultural Arm of Society:

Unifies and gathers


different groups

Displays and prioritizes


certain types of information

Television is unique
Literacy not needed
(Mostly) Free
Combines picture and
sound
Ageless medium
Can be used at all ages of life

SHAPING SOCIETAL THOUGHTS

Cultivating assumptions
about life and formulating
judgments, not attitudes
and opinions

Television creates a
persuasive picture of how
the world operates

Centralized way of telling


stories

Stabilizes social patterns


and creates resistance to
change

Cultivation Theory does not


say what people do after
watching violence on
television

Assumes that TV will create


fear because it creates a
picture of a dangerous
world

LIMITS OF TELEVISION

Measurable effects of
television viewership is small,
but has larger effects through
sustained viewership over long
time period

Ice Age Analogy- television


influences audience through
consistent, but limited, effects
on an audience

Television doesnt directly


cause behaviors, but
culminates into how people
perceive and understand the
world around them

MEASURING VARIABLES

Television viewership (IV)


causing the formation of
social attitudes and beliefs
(DV)
Heavy versus light viewer
Types of television viewed
Diversity of content
Attention to television

PROCESS OF CULTIVATION

Mainstreaming: heavy viewership of television causes the


viewer to construct a reality closer to a culturally dominant
reality than an objective reality
Heavy viewers of different cultural groups view the world similarly
Cultural differences are lessened among heavy viewers

Resonance: when televisions reality matches up with the


reality of the viewer
Amplifies the cultivation effect by portraying a reality that matches
with experience

Cultivation Effects:
First Order Effects: learning facts from the media
How many car accidents occurred in Long Beach last year?
Second Order Effects: learning values and assumptions from the
media
Do you think CSULB students are hard working?

FOUR STEP PROCESS


Specific process utilized to show that television has an
important influence on culture

Message system analysis: detailed content analysis of


television program to show repeating and consistent
themes, values, images, or portrayals

Formulating questions about viewer social realities:


developing questions about how individuals understand the
world around them

Surveying audience: ask an audience the developed


questions, and amount of television consumed

Comparing social realities of light and heavy viewers:


compare and contrast the different perceptions of the world
between heavy and light viewers
Cultivation Differential:

LIMITATIONS OF CULTIVATION THEORY

Logical Consistency:
Methods do not provide a way to measure the full scope of the
theory

Utility:
Does not always explaining exactly how people see the world
Ignores whether viewers perceive the content as real or not
Attention to television content may cultivate perceptions more
than the time viewing television

Modern Changes:
Difficult to examine differences between light and heavy viewers
as more people grow up with TV
New digital television viewing habits may change cultivation
effects

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Fictional TV and Policy
Preferences:

How have positive and


negative fictional portrayals
of characters influenced
how you think about the
world?

Have you had an experience


where your cultivated
reality was disproven by a
direct experience?

What role do you think


empathy for fictional
characters plays in
influencing our cultivated
reality?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Diversity of Television Exposure
and its Association with the
Cultivation of Concern for
Environmental Risks

Do you watch a diversity of


television content? How do you
think that influences the way
you think about the world?

How has online media


viewership habits changed the
diversity of television exposure?

What role does diversity play in


determining cultivation effects?

REFERENCES
Bergman, A. (2014, June 2). Colleagues toast the USC legacy of Larry Gross. Retrieved
November 5, 2015, from https://news.usc.edu/63607/colleagues-toast-the-usc-legacy-oflarry-gross/
Dahlstrom, M., & Scheufele, D. (2010). Diversity of television exposure and its Association
with the cultivation of concern for environmental risks. Environmental Communication,
4, 54-65. doi:10.1080/17524030903509709
Associated Press. (2006, January 2). George Gerbner, 86, researcher who studied violence
on TV. The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/03/obituaries/03gerbner.html
Gerbner, G., & Gross, L. (1976). Living with television: The violence profile. Journal of
Communication, (26), 172-194. doi:10.1111/j.1460-2466.1976.tb01397.x
Morgan, M., & Shanahan, J. (2010). The state of cultivation. Journal of Broadcasting &
Electronic Media, 54. doi:10.1080/08838151003735018
Mutz, D., & Nir, L. (2010). Not necessarily the news: Does fictional television influence realworld policy preferences? Mass Communication and Society, 13, 196-217.
doi:10.1080/15205430902813856
West, R., & Turner, L. (2009). Cultivation Analysis. In Introducing Communication Theory:
Analysis and Application (4th ed., pp. 376-391). New York: McGraw Hill.