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Mainstreaming of America - Violence Profile Number 11

NCJ Number
G Gerbner; L Gross; M Morgan; N Signorielli
Date Published
20 pages
This report on new findings of the long-range cultural indicators research project introduces new theoretical developments that further elaborate the concepts of 'mainstreaming' and 'resonance.'
The research design consisted of two interrelated parts; message system analysis, which monitored samples of prime-time and weekend daytime network dramatic programming; and cultivation analysis, which investigated viewer conceptions of reality associated with the most recurrent features of the world of television. Using a violence index, the report found that the frequency of violence and the patterns of victimization were remarkably stable from year to year and that the percent of characters involved in violence has remained fairly stable since 1969. The report also found that many differences between groups of viewers could be explained in terms of 'mainstreaming' (a relative commonality of outlooks that television tends to cultivate) and 'resonance' (special cases of particular salience to specific issues). For example, data from a national probability sample of adults indicated that light television viewers with middle and upper incomes were considerably less likely to express a high expectation of encountering violence, while heavy viewers with middle or high incomes exhibited almost the same perceived level of risk as the low-income group. These results strongly suggest that television does contribute to the cultivation of common perspectives. Further, data from the most recent national survey of adults showed that those who lived in large cities were much more likely to be afraid in their own neighborhoods at night, regardless of the amount of viewing. But city dwellers also 'resonate' most -- they show the strongest association between amount of viewing and expressing this fear. Finally, data from a 3-year longitudinal study of adolescents provided strong evidence of the power of television to cultivate mainstream outlooks. A total of 71 references, 4 tables, and 2 figures are given.


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