Riddle, K. (2008). Always on my mind: Exploring how frequent, recent, and vivid television portrayals are used in the formation of social reality judgments. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol 68(10-A), 2008. pp. 4126. Retrieved June 24, 2009, from PsycINFO database.
Prior research has found consistent support for the heuristic-processing model of cultivation effects. This model argues that cultivation effects can be explained by the availability heuristic. Specifically, people over-estimate the prevalence of crime and violence in the real world because frequent and recent exposure to vivid violent media renders related concepts accessible in memory. The present study presents two tests of the model and tests the impact of frequency, recency, and vividness on construct accessibility and social judgments. In Study 1, 207 participants completed a survey measuring television exposure, construct accessibility, social reality beliefs, and memories for a past experience with violent media. Study 1 differed from previous research in its employment of a new television exposure measure as well as two new measures of accessibility. Results of Study 1 showed that watching violent genres negatively predicted both violent word accessibility and beliefs about the prevalence of crime and violence in the real world. Total overall television viewing, however, positively predicted beliefs about crime prevalence. People’s memories for past vivid media exposure did not predict current beliefs or violent construct accessibility. The new TV exposure measure explained incremental variance above existing exposure measures. In Study 2, 223 students participated in an experimental test of the heuristic-processing model. A 2 x 2 x 2 design varied the frequency of exposure to violent TV programs, the level of vividness in the programs, and the timing of the dependent measures. Dependent measures were accessibility (measured through reaction times) and social reality beliefs. Study 2 found that reaction times were largely unresponsive to any of the independent variables. Although there were no main effects for frequency on social reality beliefs, there was a significant interaction between frequency and vividness on beliefs: people watching vivid violent media gave higher estimates of the prevalence of crime in the real world in the 3x viewing condition than those in the 1x viewing condition. In concluding, it is argued that Study 1 and 2 have important implications for the heuristic-processing model, cultivation theory, and vividness. Practical implications for the study’s findings and directions for future research are provided. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved)