Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

K-State professor finds that media can change society’s attitudes

15.08.2003


In a recent study that examined perceptions of gays and lesbians by others, Kansas State University psychology professor Richard Harris asked one group of people to think of a positive gay or lesbian character from a television show or movie and asked another group to think of a negative gay or lesbian character from media. A third group, the control group, was asked to think about an unmarried media character, but sexual orientation was not mentioned. All three groups were then asked to complete a personality rating of that character, followed by a survey of their attitudes toward gay and lesbian people in society. Those who had been asked to think of a positive character had more positive attitudes toward gay men in society than those who had been asked to think of a negative character or the control group who thought of an unmarried character.



One of the most striking aspects about the responses, however, was that more than two-thirds of the participants thought of comedian and former sitcom star Ellen DeGeneres or one of the gay characters from the popular television show "Will and Grace." Harris said this suggests that such very popular shows may have a "potentially huge influence to increase tolerance for gays and lesbians in society."

Harris explained that popular media and entertainment have been used to change perceptions and increase education about other types of social issues, especially medical issues, in the past.


"In Africa, government and medical interests have given money to entertainment industries to create shows with gripping plotlines that address the problem of AIDS. In South Africa and India, shows were written that attempted to increase the status of women and encourage more of them to become professionals," Harris said.

In the United States, the media has often dealt with cancer awareness and prevention. The Centers for Disease Control worked with the writers of "ER" to encourage screenings of cancer, and "Beverly Hills 90210" had an episode in which one of the characters was diagnosed with and learned about skin cancer. In the 1970s, First Lady Betty Ford and several movie stars publicized that they had been diagnosed with breast cancer, which significantly increased the rate of mammograms.

However, one of the most notable instances was the morning that a colonoscopy was done on television.

"After her husband died of colon cancer, Katie Couric had a colonoscopy and aired it on the "Today Show" to educate others about colon cancer," Harris said. "Recent research shows that shortly thereafter, there was a 20 percent increase in the rate of colonoscopies. No public service announcement would ever have that much effect. She probably saved and will save a lot of lives."

Harris explained that studies of these and other media moments provide evidence that entertainment is usually more effective than public service announcements and other more direct means of publicizing issues and advocating behaviors. However, his study is unique in that it reveals the increased significance of popular shows in changing social stereotypes of specific groups.

"We need to look at popular shows more closely," he said. "In the past, people have done content analyses of particular groups on TV, but those studies don’t reflect the popularity of the show. This study suggests that 10 shows addressing an issue may be less significant than if one of those shows is a top 10 show."

This fall, Harris plans to begin a similar study on the popular media representation of another minority group. He explained that several studies have been done comparing the media portrayal of blacks and whites, but there is very little media representation of Latinos, Native Americans, or Asian and Arab Americans. The way they are portrayed will affect the behavior and perceptions of others toward these groups in society, so it is important to apply this research and consider those implications, he said.

"Media is something that psychologists should be concerned about. When research shows that people are spending four to five hours a day watching TV and there is evidence that teens are spending even more time on the Internet, we should know the effects of what we’re spending so much time with."

Richard Harris | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ksu.edu/

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht New Technologies for A/V Analysis and Search
13.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Digitale Medientechnologie IDMT

nachricht On patrol in social networks
25.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>