Table of Contents
February 14, 2001
SPRING 2001 THEORY WORKBOOK
Explanation of Theory:
Gerbner’s cultivation theory says that television has become the main source of storytelling in today's society. Those who watch four or more hours a day are labeled heavy television viewers and those who view less then four hours per day, according to Gerbner are light viewers. Heavy viewers are exposed to more violence and therefore are effected by the Mean World Syndrome, an idea that the world is worse then it actually is. According to Gerbner, the overuse of television is creating a homogeneous and fearful populace.
Theorists: George Gerbner
Individual Interpretations and Critique: The cultivation theory is a scientific theory. Epistimologically speaking, Gerbner believes in one truth. The theory does not believe television viewers have a choice in whether they are effected by media violence or not. Lastly, Gerbner allows some of his own values to enter into the theory by deciding what to consider violence and by assigning a numerical value to heavy television viewing. Gerber’s idea of the effects heavy television viewing is intriguing. There is definitely support to show that those who watch great amounts of television do experience the mean world syndrome, the definition of ‘heavy’ needs to be reexamined. Gerbner defines heavy television viewing as watching four or more hours a day. The idea of setting a numerical value to try to equate heavy influence to a mass populace is suspect. While the theory does contain some holes it adequately opens the discussion dealing with effects of the media upon viewers.
and Implications: The effects of Gerbner’s mean world syndrome
can easily be seen in nursing homes. Many occupants of nursing homes
watch many hours of television per day without leaving their rooms to actually
see what the real world is like. Having only the media to guide their
interpretation of the ‘real world’, nursing home residents believe that
the world is a corrupt and violent place.
Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:
R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction
to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.