Essay, Research Paper: Psychology College Paper

Psychology

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Television is a vital source from which most Americans receive information. News
and media delegates on television have abused theirs powers over society through
the airing of appealing news shows that misinform the public. Through literary
research and experimentation, it has been proven that people's perception of
reality has been altered by the information they receive from such programs.
Manipulation, misinterpretation, word arrangement, picture placement and timing
are all factors and tricks that play a major role in the case. Research,
experimentation, and actual media coverage has pinpointed actual methods used
for deceptive advertising. Television influences society in many ways. People
are easily swayed to accept a belief that they may not normally have unless
expressed on television, since many people think that everything they hear on
television is true. This, however, is not always the case. It has been observed
that over the past twenty to thirty years, normal social behavior, even actual
life roles of men and women and media, regulatory policies have all been altered
(Browne 1998). Media has changed with time, along with quality and
respectability. Many Americans receive and accept false information that is
merely used as an attention grabber that better the show's ratings and
popularity. Many magazines and Journal reviews have periodically discussed the
"muckraking" that many tabloid shows rely on to draw in their viewers.
This involves sensationalizing a story to make it more interesting, therefore
increasing the interest of the audience. "Along the way, all sorts of
scandalous substance and goofy tricks appear, but not much mystery in the
logic," (Garnson 1997). People often know that these shows aim to deceive
them, but still accept the information as truth. Many times, people have strong
opinions on certain topics. Yet, when they are exposed to the other side of the
argument, they may be likely to agree with the opposite view. As Leon Festinger
said, "If I chose to do it (or say it), I must believe in it," (Myers
1997). This is an example of Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory, which
pertains to acting contrary to our beliefs. Television influences many people to
change their original beliefs. It has the viewers think that the majority of
other people hold the contrary idea. Once these views are presented, people have
the option to hold strong to their beliefs or conform to what they feel the rest
of society believes. Though conforming is not necessarily bad, it can confuse
people and therefore allow them to believe false ideas. When someone is under an
informational social influence and is willing to change their views, the fine
line between the truth and fiction is clouded. It is; however, important to keep
an open mind and not let any personal prejudices influence a decision on an
important topic. Though agreeing with an idea simply to be accepted by others in
society is questionable. Joseph Joybert, an essayist from the eighteenth century
once said, "Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more
than they love truth" (Myers 1997). Which emphasizes the importance of
open-mindedness. Television is in the convenient position of being able to
influence people when they are most vulnerable. Open-mindedness can often be
treated as gullibility and therefore used as a tool to manipulate people's
beliefs. Daschmann has stated a reason for this gullibility. He claims that a
certain amount of gullibility or understanding of certain news shows comes with
social factors. Some people are raised with a different education and status
with society than others, which hinges on the perception of the different news
shows and material. But the individual differences and character traits do not
have a bearing on the subject matter (Daschmann & Kepplinger 1997). These
news shows then place the ball in the public's court and they must figure out
what to do with it themselves. It is very difficult for normal people to know
whom to believe. So many intelligent Americans accept the information that they
receive from television because they could not imagine being deceived. They
think only morons can be influenced by television, but do not even realize how
easily they are confusing truth for fiction and tabloid fluff. The tabloid shows
are so questionable that even those within the industry are unsure of their
motivations. According to Zoglin, these programs "┘ are scorned by
mainstream journalists, dismissed by most critics, laughed at by many viewers.
Yet when sensational crimes and celebrity scandals grab the nation's attention,
these are the shows that do the spadework, uncover the dirt, and get the scoops.
Their style may be cheesy and there tactics dicey, but they are doing a lot of
old-fashioned, roll-up-your-sleeves journalism," (Zoglin 1997). Of course
these shows need to work hard on their stories, but their reasons are not always
for the sake of reporting the truth. Tabloid news programs serve the purpose of
entertainment for the public, and in order to ensure good ratings, they must
produce the best stories. These stories seem well put together and researched,
but this should not make them seem any more truthful than the thrown-together,
late- breaking and unorganized news we see on legitimate news program. Deborah
Baldwin wrote about how the media spoon-feeds us the news and how the general
public routinely eats it up (Moser 1998). Media is so caught up in ratings, cash
and the bottom line that other quality factors are thrown aside. Language is
altered, the truth is stretched and the flesh is multiplied. Unfortunately, most
Americans eat it up every day. There is a problem that society must deal with.
This problem is that as long as there are people who will tune into these
tabloid news shows and accept the information that they receive as truth, these
shows will be getting exactly what they want and will continue to confuse the
public for entertainment value. Joshua Gamson argues that all of the major
networks risk their trust-based credibility and televise only
audience-attractive stories (Gamson 1997). Tabloid shows may try to change their
reputation, but the reality seems to be that many people know that these shows
are questionable but tune in anyway. People are confused by the information they
receive and will be as long as they allow themselves access to shows that will
alter the truth of a topic. In 1996, during the O.J. Simpson trial, two news/
media shows were both observed and compared. The focus was on what was the main
story and how were they presented. Bruce Sanford of Media Studies Journal
evaluates the difference in free press and free trial. The fact of the matter
is, an innocent until proven guilty mindset is thrown out the window when it
comes to a case of this media covered caliber, "The phrases free press and
fair trial are Anglo-American ideals, often presented as if they are at odds
with each other." He continued by saying "Since the mid-1980's no
decision has addressed the media's First Amendment rights to cover the courts,
reflecting a judicial attitude towards the media, bordering on contempt"
(Sanford 1998). The two shows evaluated in the study clearly handicapped Mr.
Simpson in a fair trial arrangement. They twisted, manipulated and controlled
what the public would think and feel about the O.J. trial. Students from North
Central College conducted a small, on-campus experiment. The "TV
Reality" survey showed evidence that television has changed people's
perception of reality. The students were given a short quiz that tested to see
what kind of information they were receiving from the news and media. One of the
points was to see how effective and accurate the information was to the
students. One of the questions asked was "What is the homicide rate in
America per one hundred thousand population?" More than the majority of the
students whom took the survey was incorrect upon answering this question. TV and
the media have slowly over-saturated our mainstream of thinking so that what we
see on TV is what we perceive as truth. When in actuality, nothing could be
farther from the truth. An explanation why so many people were wrong again is
that the average television viewer witnesses over six killings a day, over
twenty- two hundred in a year. In a related finding, Janet Fink from the Journal
of Physical Education discovered that female athletes have been underrepresented
in the media for quite some time. Studies show that only %15 of coverage in
newspapers and %5 of television air time has been given to covering female
athletes. (Fink 1998) These experiments and surveys correlate with another
experiment conducted by John Steel, "A survey has indicated that around
two-thirds of young people base their moral judgements on how a decision made
them feel and whether it helped them succeed. Electronic media support these
views and increase the importance of self" (Steel 1997). The on-campus
experiment contained statistical questions that pertained to situations that
people may have learned about on television. The answers to these questions
could easily have been influenced by what was said on television. This theory
was known to be true shortly after the results from the survey were collected.
In fact, there was not a single question that was answered correctly by even
half of the students surveyed, and most of the time, a majority of people gave
answers which reflect the images that television portrays. There are many ways
that television psychologically affects people through tabloid news and other TV
programming. John Hibbing agrees that television can cause a psychological
disturbance. Mass media coverage in the United States affects people's emotional
reactions more than their cognitive evaluations of public figures. (Hibbing
& Theiss-Morse 1998). If this were to maintain habit throughout the United
States, it would take in the form of a progressive stimulant. There'd be no
rationalized thoughts. The more we 'd view theses shows the more in apt we'd get
to any thought of rationalization. We'd just respond to our feelings. One way
that this is done is through the cognitive dissonance theory. At first one might
believe in his own opinion, but after he finds out that a majority of people
disagree with him he might change his mind because TV tells us that a majority
is always right. Prejudice is another psychological effect that television uses
to grab the attention of its viewers. They take advantage of the fact that
people have preconceptions and try to influence people on their prejudices. The
third effect discussed is informational social influence. This is the biggest
effect in that the television programs try to make you believe that everything
that is portrayed in their shows is true. Through out the research on media
manipulation and deceivement, it was found that many literary sources agreed
that tabloid news altered the truth to get more viewers to watch their show and
to boost the ratings. They also manipulate the public by sensationalizing their
stories for entertainment purposes. The producers do not care whether or not the
story is educational or true just as long as people watch the show. Their main
goal is to draw the people in. It does not matter what subject they cover, as
long as people are watching. Works Cited Browne, Beverly A. (1998). Gender
stereotypes in advertising on children's television in the 1990's: a
cross-national analysis. Journal of Advertising, 27, 83-97. Daschmann, Gregor
and Kepplinger, Hans Mathias. (1997). Today's news-tomorrow's context: a dynamic
model of news processing. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 41,
548-566. Fink, Janet S. (1998). Female Athlete's and the media: strides and
stalemates. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 69,37-42.
Garnson, Joshua. (1997). Gimmicks and props, the world in TV advertising.
Journal of Broadcasting, 51, 345-355. Hibbing, John R. and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse.
(1998). The media's role in public negativity toward Congress: Distinguishing
emotional reactions and cognitive evaluations. Journal of Political Science, 42,
475-499. Moser, H. Ronald and Wayne E. Nelson. (1998). How consumers view
advertising by optometrists. The Social Science Journal, 35, 445-454. Myers,
Mark. (1997). Theory's and notions behind TV gimmicks. Journal of Science
Communication, 31, 124-135. Sanford, Bruce W. (1998). The trumped-up conflict
between freedom of the press and the right to a fair trial. Media Studies
Journal, 12, 2-11. Seel, John. (1997). Plugged in, spaced out, and turned on:
electronic entertainment and moral minefields. Journal of Education, 179, 17-33.
Zoglin, Richard. (1997). Tabloids and their exploitation in the media. Journal
of Media Research, 35, 156-178. American Journal of Political Science, April
1998 v42 n2 p475(24). Title: The media's role in public negativity toward
Congress: distinguishing emotional reactions and cognitive evaluations. Author:
John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse Source: Journal of Education, Fall
1997 v179 n3 p17(16). Title: Plugged in, spaced out, and turned on: electronic
entertainment and moral minefields. Author: John Seel Source: Journal of
Advertising, Spring 1998 v27 n1 p83(14). Title: Gender stereotypes in
advertising on children's television in the 1990s: a cross-national analysis.
Author: Beverly A. Browne Source: International Journal of Advertising, May 1998
v17 n2 p233(21). Title: Perceptions of the media in three different cultures:
the US, Australia & Taiwan. Author: Henry C.K. Chen and Dean Allmon Source:
The Social Science Journal, July 1998 v35 n3 p445(9). Title: How consumers view
advertising by optometrists. Author: H. Ronald Moser and Wayne E. Nelson Source:
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Fall 1997 v41 n4 p548(18).
Title: Today's news - tomorrow's context: a dynamic model of news processing.
Author: Hans Mathias Kepplinger and Gregor Daschmann Source: Media Studies
Journal, Wntr 1998 v12 n1 p2(9). Title: No contest: The trumped-up conflict
between freedom of the press and the right to a fair trial. Author: Bruce W.
Sanford Source: Journal of Contemporary History, July 1998 v33 n3 p419(31).
Title: Television's visual impact on decision-making in the USA, 1968: the Tet
Offensive and Chicago's Democratic National Convention. Author: David Culbert
Source: Journal of Contemporary History, July 1998 v33 n3 p419(31). Title:
Television's visual impact on decision-making in the USA, 1968: the Tet
Offensive and Chicago's Democratic National Convention. Author: David Culbert
Source: JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance,
August 1998 v69 n6 p37(5). Title: Female athletes and the media: strides and
stalemates. Author: Janet S. Fink Television and Media Effect On the Public By:
Justin Diamond Psychology 100 Quotes for paper In the last few decades, social
norms for behavior, actual roles occupied by men and women, and media regulatory
policies have changed.-Browne 83 In order to make advertising effective in
different cultures, an understanding of the language, connotations of symbols,
media availability and media perceptions of different countries is critical for
a media planner of a multinational firm.- Henry C.K. Chen and Dean Allmon 34
Some people will use more news, some will have a more adequate understanding of
it and some might remember the contents better, but these differences are due to
social factors such as education and status within society, not to character
traits arising from individual life experience.- The numerous studies on the
reception or the effects of news programs can be placed on an imaginary
continuum according to the degree of how actively they define the role of the
recipient-Hans Mathias Kepplinger and Gregor Daschmann 549 both A survey has
indicated that around two-thirds of young people base their moral judgements on
how a decision made them feel and whether it helped them succeed. Electronic
media support these views and increase the importance of self.- John Seel 20 The
nature of political news as presented by the mass media in the modern United
States is such that it affects people's emotional reactions more than their
cognitive evaluations of political actors and institutions.- John R. Hibbing and
Elizabeth Theiss-Morse 480 The phrases free press and fair trial are
Anglo-American ideals, often presented as if they are at odds with each other.-
Since the mid-1980s no decision has addressed the media's First Amendment rights
to cover the courts, reflecting a judicial attitude towards the media, bordering
on contempt. 5 Studies show that female athletes have long been underrepresented
in media, accounting for only 15% of coverage in newspapers and 5% of television
air time.- Janet S. Fink 40
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