Television and Media Paper
Television and Media Paper English 101
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Date Created: 10/22/15
Through inspiring storylines or relationships to characters television and media relate to many people s lives Through it all however there is always unrealistic portrayals of romance shown no matter the genre of media Whether it is young girls watching Disney princess movies or young adults becoming addicted to reality television movies and soap operas there is some sort of romance that we latch on to and wish for or even integrate into our own lives and relationships This process of latching on to what we see on television is defined by the cultivation theory The cultivation theory is a process that is induced by watching television and the more we watch it is likely that we will start to perceive reality more similarly to the television world This phenomenon is affected by the amount of television viewing and can also be affected by relationship status gender and age Romance based media depicts storylines where characters rapidly fall in love and encounter slim to no relational problems creating unrealistic portrayals of romantic relationships Therefore through the idea of the cultivation theory the more time someone spends watching television reading books or magazines or even watching music videos their relationship expectations belief in soul mates and ideas about relationships may change or become distorted The media is said to create distorted beliefs about relationships and marriages which leads to unrealistic expectations Previous research has shown that the genre of media that causes these beliefs include soap operas romance based media and in some cases music videos Haferkamp s 1999 article discusses the implications of high television viewing and high soap opera viewing in one hundred eightyeight undergraduates Haferkamp Soap operas were used in this study because contrary to sitcoms and dramas the storylines and relationships build over longer periods of time creating a more lifelike scenario The participants filled out questionnaires asking a degree of enjoyment b degree of importance in watching c degree of involvement with the stories and characters d degree to which shows were watched for escape e degree to which shows were watched to see how other people lived and dealt with problems f perceived reallife accuracy of the situations featured and g overall life satisfaction Haferkamp 195 If the participants said they highly enjoyed the show it was very important to watch and they were extremely involved in the characters and story lines it was hypothesized that there would be a positive correlation between television and soap opera viewing and affirmation of dysfunctional relationship beliefs Therefore the more television a participant watches the more they will expect their partner to know what they want or think without discussion the more they will expect the perfect sexual experience and a higher chance of believing in the stereotypes of the sexes Meaning men should be the ones to initiate sexual activity and women should be the caregivers for example Researchers also hypothesized that if the shows were watched for escape the participant would have a lower life satisfaction Another hypothesis was that women would watch more soap operas than men and there would be a relationship between selfmonitoring and affirmation of dysfunctional relationship beliefs Results showed that women watched five times the amount of soap operas than men and the high television viewers were high soap opera viewers as well There was a significant positive correlation between television viewing and dysfunctional relationship beliefs especially expected mindreading sexual perfectionism and the belief the gender roles in relationships are different To test relationship expectations differently researchers used a selfmonitoring scale that measured the participant s self presentation and how the participants were able to control their selfpresentations in certain situations A five point relationship beliefs inventory was also included that asked participants to rate statements about relationship beliefs Researchers looked at these ratings before and after exposure to television Dysfunctional relationship beliefs that were examined in this study included expected mind reading the belief that sexes are different partners cannot change sexual perfectionism and con ict is detrimental Haferkamp However soap opera viewing was not correlated with dysfunctional relationship beliefs Further research was done to examine differences between high and low television and soap opera viewing Results showed that high television viewers also had high exposure to soap operas revealing that high television viewers were more likely to endorse the belief the sexes are different Haferkamp 198 Similarly another test between television and soap opera viewers showed that those involved in soap operas were also involved in television and were more likely to expect mind reading in relationships This leads to the conclusion that higher exposure to television whether or not it is a soap opera leads to a higher expectation of mind reading and the sexes are different in relationships In other words a partner expects to know the other partner s wants and desires without communication and there are differences between men and women in their wants desires and needs Haferkamp Overall higher television and soap opera viewing is correlated to dysfunctional relationship beliefs especially mind reading and the difference in gender roles in relationships However there are limitations to the study The participants were in college and because of their age ranges the younger participants may not be as consumed with schoolwork giving them more time for television they might also not think too much about love because they are not at that point in their lives yet Participants also filled out their own surveys so their personal responses could be distorted Although it is hard to measure someone s daily exposure to television longitudinal measures could be taken to follow up with the participants to see how their media environment and relationship status change over time especially postcollege This study leads researchers to believe that watching more soap operas and romancebased television in uence what society expects in romantic relationships Branching from this another phenomenon that creates unrealistic romantic expectations is the exposure to music videos Although these music videos are a lot shorter in duration than movies or television shows it tends to portray the meaning behind the song Of course not all songs are about romance but a lot of music is about the feelings and emotions of having or losing a relationship Typically as viewers we see a couple fall in love very quickly and live happily ever after or end unpleasantly leading a partner into a psychotic downward spiral Taylor Swift s Today Was a Fairytale is a music video that portrays a couple spending the perfect day together all googly eyed almost like they are in fact in a fairy tale Driving people away from the belief in sweet honeymoon love is another song of Swift s Picture to Burn Breaking a girl s heart or being mean in a relationship can lead to craziness and a possible sabotage as the music video portrays which leads viewers to believe that relationships are not worth the heartache or emotional damage Depending on the meaning and story behind the song there can be many ideas about relationships that stem from watching the correlating music video which can persuade people to believe that relationships and marriages are the best thing that can happen to them or in some cases the worst This idea cultivates our belief that it is socially normal to fall in love very instantly and live happily ever after or our life is ruined if the romance does not last Although one may not watch as many music videos as heshe does soap opera episodes Haferkamp would still agree that music videos correlating with romantic music is considered romance based media and therefore with enough exposure can cause unrealistic expectations about love Apart from each partner having high expectations from one another another belief that stems from watching romance based television is the belief in a soulmate Holmes 2007 article focuses on an exploratory study that explores the relationship between romantic media and finding a soul mate or believing in love at first sight Holmes Many of the romance based movies and even dating shows key in on the idea of love at first sight The characters are always falling in love so quickly and unlike real life the girl gets the boy to like her back immediately without any obstacles A key difference in this study than in Haferkamp s 1999 article is that many of the participants reported being in an exclusive romantic relationship or dating This is important because it is significant to see how television affects those who are single verses those who are experiencing a serious relationship In this study researchers ask whether or not there is a relationship between individuals preferences forliking of romance oriented media and their beliefs about relationship destiny and if a relationship between romance media preference and beliefs about relationship destiny stand even when taking into account gender and relationship experience variables Holmes 3 To answer these questions participants marked which shows movies and magazines they were familiar with along with how much they likeddisliked them Then their belief in soul mates was measured Results showed a strong correlation between liking romance media and belief in soul mates Also as it was shown previously women more than men preferred romance media These results go hand in hand with the predictions and previous research After being consumed or obsessed with a certain medium of entertainment one will start to incorporate what heshe sees on screen or reads because it works out so beautifully in the story that they think it will work out just as well in their own relationship These results should be starting points for future research because the cultivation theory was not tested specifically However it is a good starting study because the participants were reported as being in relationships so they have firsthand experience of what they already expect in their relationship and if these expectations or other expectations are in uenced by the media Thus as participants showed belief in soul mates after exposure to romance media the cultivation theory is demonstrated Beyond the belief in a soul mate the media specifically romance based also in uences men s and women s ideas on love intentions to marry expectations in marriage and perceived reality As more and more Americans get married it seems as if the divorce rate continues to increase A major part of this high divorce rate comes from unrealistic notions about marriage Apart from other sources such as family and friends this thought about marriage can be affected by romance based media Previous studies show that after analyzing several Disney animated movies a leading theme was the concept of love at first sight Holmes Popular movies that were also analyzed showed couples rapidly falling in love getting married and living happily ever after while more analyses of young adult media showed a majority of female characters being motivated by a romance with the right one Holmes These are prime examples that romance is portrayed in all sorts of media affecting not only teens and young adults but also small children Although the cultivation theory might say that it would appear that romance based media would affect people more than general television different people watch different programs and these programs could contain different messages that are interpreted in various ways A 1998 study done by Illouz cited in Nabi amp Segrin revealed participants stating that they believe the media is responsible for their ideas about love The cultivation theory addresses this problem of television viewing and belief about reality Gerbner cited in Nabi amp Segrin introduces the idea in 1969 that heavy viewers will perceive the world more similar to the way it is on television than light viewers not genre specific Not straying far from marriage expectations the cultivation theory says that the media will breed unrealistic expectations about intimacy passion happiness love at first sight physical beauty empathy and communication Nabi amp Segrin 2006 Meanwhile the media simultaneously excludes con icts in marriages therefore the media is partly to blame for creating unrealistic portrayals of love To test these theories Nabi amp Segrin created research questions around the cultivation theory that asked if heavy viewing is correlated with more distorted expectations about marriage Nabi amp Segrin 2006 Using participants who were not married nor had they ever been married they asked them open ended questions about what their hypothetical marriage expectations are if they fantasized about marriage if they expect intimacy in the relationship if they have an eros love style highly romanced very intimate passionate their intentions to marry TV viewing what type of television they watch and if they felt television correctly portrayed reality Results showed that women watched more romancebased television and had more fantasies about marriage and higher intentions to marry There was a correlation between watching romance based television and partaking in an eros love style There was also a correlation between romance television viewing and fantasizing about marriage with higher intentions to marry The romance shown in the program affects how the participants think about marriage thus leading to the assumption that the more one watches this type of media the more their beliefs about the televised romance will be congruent with the messages shown on TV In an article written by Jeremy Osborn a study was conducted using all married individuals thus creating another perspective to help support the cultivation theory This study found that women watched more romance based television and expected higher rewards and commitment in the relationship whereas men expected more costs Osborn This could stem from television shows where the woman is always happy in the relationship while the male is tied down and cannot do the things he wants to do On the other hand it is very common that women are more interested in finding relationships and men are more interested in the single life regardless of the media Although these programs create negative ideas about marriage they do cultivate the perspective that it is conventional and by watching these programs viewers will become immersed in the idea of what their favorite couple or character is doing whether or not there is a relationship Although there are many ideas that the cultivation theory is not real nor does it affect as many people as these researchers may say there is evidence of these effects that we have seen from the previous research Most of this discussion has been focused on the perception about how and why television creates different ideas about love As we saw in Nabi amp Segrin s 2004 study higher viewing of romanced based television viewing created higher intentions to marry higher fantasy rumination and higher chances of having an eros love style Similarly in Holmes 2007 study the higher liking of romance media led to higher beliefs in soul mates and expectations of mind reading in relationships Another study by Steven Eggermont 2004 also looks at the relationship between mass media and adolescent romantic conception Schools in Belgium were randomly selected from a list to take part in the study Then fifteen and sixteen year old children were chosen and randomly placed into groups based on educational level They were then given questionnaires that asked how much or long they watched television what types of programming they watched how long they have had a girlfriend or a boyfriend and included a version of Rubin s perceived Realism scale The results were interpreted Because of the gender differences they did separate analyses for gender groups Researchers found there was a correlation between television viewing and the importance of attractiveness in a partner They also found that the more the adolescents watched television the more they expected their partner to have a pleasant personality This study complies with the cultivation theory because they found that as these young boys watch more television there was a higher chance they will want a partner who is nice looking while as girls watch more television they will try to find a partner with a nice personality Therefore these children are trying to create relationships with people like the ones they see on TV rather than what they are exposed to in real life Because the participants are so young they might not understand what a mature relationship entails therefore they will believe what is portrayed on television as a real life romance There are limitations in this study due to the young age of the participants and outside factors such as educational level and relationship with parents and peers that in uence the results Nonetheless there are some great starting points to future research because of the results shown supporting the statement that television does indeed create different perceptions about love Through the use of attractive and pleasant characters and interacting storylines romance based media creates unrealistic portrayals of romantic relationships The cultivation theory suggests a phenomenon that occurs from high exposure to television and high exposure to romance based media that portrays storylines with unrealistic behaviors in relationships may affect real life relationships and marriages Understanding that the studies discussed earlier did show proof the cultivation theory does exist when watching high amounts of romancebased media leads researchers to believe that the media portrays too good to be true romance However just like any study there are aws that do need to be considered but the starting points of the results are great indicators that media can distort our views on romantic relationships and ideas about marriage Fifty years ago there was not the technology we have today but the same stories were told in books However with television we can visually see the budding romance and how they interact in the relationship making it easier to attach to and believe in Although there will probably be a new type of media fifty years from now romance will not change and how romance is portrayed probably will not change either so is there any hope for society to detach from what they see on TV and experience it for themselves
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