Media Influence Essay

1 August 2010 Media Influences on Society Media is a major part of everyday society of all ages and cultures. It is a way of keeping everyone connected to each other. Because it has that ability to reach the mass, it can serve as a very influential tool. Something with this much power is naturally a topic of discussion on its positive and negative influences on society. Some of its major influences that have been the source of many conducted studies are violence, marketing, politics, and self image.

Violent media and its influence on society is an ongoing debate that researchers are continuously doing studies on. According to the Media Awareness Network website, many researchers argue that children exposed to violence in the media causes them to behave more aggressively as children and also when they mature into adults. In 1963, there was a study done by professors A. Badura, D. Ross and S. A. Ross. They studied the effects of violence into categories of real life, television, and cartoon violence.

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They divided a group of 100 preschoolers into four groups where one group was a control group and the other groups were exposed to the same incident in real life, by television, and by cartoon. The study consisted of a person shouting insults and hitting an inflatable doll with a mallet. When the researchers put the children in a frustrating situation, the children that witnessed the incident in real life and on television were the most aggressive, followed by the children who watched the cartoon violence. The group that was the least aggressive was the control group who viewed nothing.

On the other end of the spectrum, the violence viewed on television does not necessarily mean that will make people more aggressive. There are other behaviors that may developed by watching the violence. According to http://stayfreemagazine. org, the new obsessions of cop shows possibly make people more paranoid. People are less likely to go out at night or to help strangers because of what they saw on a show and how they could become that victim. Aggressive behavior may be a result also but it is highly doubtful that violent media randomly creates violent behavior without other major factors.

The major problem with the studies is that there are many different studies done with different conclusions. Despite the many different conclusions, the one thing that most of the researchers can agree on is that although there is no real evidence of the correlation of violent media and aggressive behavior, it can be one of many factors. Researchers Huesmann and Bacharach conclude, “Family attitudes and social class are stronger determinants of attitudes toward aggression than is the amount of exposure to TV, which is nevertheless a significant but weaker predictor. According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. ” In every major company, there is a marketing and/or public relations division. That division is in charge of getting into the minds of potential clientele and figuring out how they think in order to sell a product to that group.

The media is an increasingly used marketing tool that is influences people of all ages. Media is so influential because it can reach the mass through many different mediums. For example, toys will be marketed to children on television stations where the majority of the viewers are children. It is also used to teach as well as entertain. It gains momentum because it is easily accessible to people all over the world. There are many different mediums in which the media can come through. Amongst the most popular are television, radio, and the internet.

The mediums that are popular now for marketing are social media networks. Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter have many advertisers and sponsors that use their internet platform in order to market. Companies are able to get a greater return on investment, since the overhead is low. Because the internet is so widely used, media influence can be incorporated into it. On the homepage of Myspace today, August 1, 2010, some of the advertisements consists of Warped Tour 2010, music by Linkin Park, a Jim Carey link, and links back to school, fishing and bunnies.

With all of this presented on a daily basis from one click, it is obvious that there is media influence ranging from the products we buy, to the music that we listen to. Many of the young people in the younger generation depend on the media for fashion, fads, entertainment, and for local and national information. Networks such as MTV, VH1, and BET prove to be the one-stop-shop for young people. MTV, in particular, uses marketing and public relation professionals to figure out how they can influence its viewers the most.

They spend millions of dollars to gather focus groups and follow individuals in order to get in the minds of young people. The information that they gather help them to figure out their programming to attract more of the youth. The music that is played on the music television stations seem to be increasingly influencing the youth. Music videos sometimes portray an exaggerated version of the truth, especially in rap. Hip hop, which includes rap, has become a culture that is commonly misrepresented in videos that suburban kids tend to mimic.

The lifestyle is normally common in the inner cities but it is now spreading to the suburban kids that seem like they have something to prove in order to be cool. Even groups such as Destiny’s Child made a song years ago about how they need to date a “soldier” or a thug as their significant other in which young girls believed to be true. They mimic the fashion and behavior of the people they idolize, whether it is an artist, a model, or a reality television star. Anyone that can help influence who these kids are or who they want to be.

Marketing and politics are closely related with influence over society. Most of the research, when presented, seems to mirror conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories or not, there is an undeniable influence over society with the coverage of politics. The majority of media is owned by five major companies; Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, and Bertelsmann. The owner of a specific company can put a slant on the media to help people think a certain way and possibly help them to act as an opinion leader.

Rupert Murdoch is mostly known for using the media to influence opinions. Murdoch owns 35 television stations and publishes 175 newspapers. He is mostly known for his ownership of Fox news networks. According to www. americanprogress. org, Murdoch used Fox to make the war in Iraq to appear favorable and morally correct through his news broadcasts through Fox. Many of the discussions that people have on a daily basis are from what they saw on television, read in the newspaper, or heard on the radio. Also, many of the people are not ware enough to do proper research from many different mediums of the media to realize which medium may have a slant. Major elections have enormous marketing budgets for media broadcast to reach the mass. They spend so much money on these marketing campaigns because people depend on these platforms to receive their information. The 2008 presidential election was a highly debated topic on the use of media to influence society. President Obama had nearly 50% more media coverage than McCain. There was a positive correlation between the amount of positive media versus the amount of supporters.

Potential elected officials are also using the internet to promote themselves. Since most people in the United States have internet or a cell phone that can connect to a mobile internet, promoting via social media is proving to be a wise decision for most. A message on Twitter can be posted and retweeted for millions to see, which would increase the influence of a particular campaign. The internet sites also contains links connected to other sites on issues related to the politician in order to help influence a vote. If someone likes what they see in a campaign, they can also donate online.

As technology grows, means of media influence also grows. Although politics are a major source of influence on the media, the most studies derive from women and how they view themselves compared to other women in the media and the pressures of being thin and perfect. In Gynther, Morris, and Sutherland’s 2007 study the researchers explored the media’s influence on body image satisfaction. They wanted to study women’s emotional responses to different beauty types. One of the main resources for learning about beauty is the media.

Studies have proven that consumers have turned advertising models into guides for what is and is not beautiful. To further expound upon previous studies, the researchers of the 2007 study investigated the topic with surveys. Photographs were gathered from 2003 and 2004 Vogue, Cosmopolitan, In Style, and Allure magazines. The researchers recruited 258 female undergraduates whose ages ranged from 18-26. The participants were enrolled in introductory communication courses at a large Southeastern university at the time of the study.

Seventy-two percent were Caucasian, 18% Hispanic, 8% African American, and 2% Asian. The goal was to determine if women classified models’ beauty into the same six beauty types (emotional, threatening, mundane, sexy, cerebral, and personal) as that of fashion and industry professionals. One hundred thirty-one subjects were given packets containing models’ photographs and space below to mark responses using a 5-point Likert scale, ranging from “completely agree” to “completely disagree” to rate each photograph on each of the six pre-established dimensions of beauty.

Researchers formulated the social comparison theory from this study. The social comparison theory states that humans are driven to evaluate their attitudes, opinions, and abilities by comparing themselves to others. This drive has three separate motives which are self-evaluation, self-enhancement, and self-improvement. Self-evaluation is an accurate assessment of one’s abilities, value, and worth based on the direction of comparisons. Self-enhancement involves comparing oneself to someone who will protect, maintain, or enhance self-perception.

Self-improvement involves learning how to better oneself or finding inspiration from another to improve an aspect of oneself (Goodman, Morris, Sutherland 2007). The observation and comparison shows that other women that are seen in everyday life has proven to be detrimental to women’s psyche and intensified with the media whether it is television or print. Not everyone believes that the media alone can contribute to a negative self image of one’s body. According to http://organizedwisdom. com, there is also a positive body image that is being portrayed in television shows and commercials.

For example, Dove soap used their influence to promote their Campaign for Real Beauty. This campaign promotes the beauty in every individual and the value of positive self-esteem. Although media has an influence over society, not all of it is bad. Media is now used as a promotional tool in order to control opinions rather than entertainment solely. Society has a responsibility to do additional research on things they may be interested in but also to keep in mind that not all things that the media portrays is harmful. One way or another, media has influence over people in violence, marketing, politics, and self image.

It is up society to determine what information to use and how to use it. Works Cited (March 7, 2008). Positive Media Influence on Body Image. Retrieved August 1, 2010, from http://organizedwisdom. com/Positive_Media_Influence_on_Body_Image. (July 16, 2004). Who is Rupert Murdoch? Retrieved July 31, 2010, from http://www. americanprogress. org/issues/2004/07/b122948. html. (October 22, 2008). Winning the Media Campaign. Retrieved July 31, 2010, from http://www. journalism. org/analysis_report/winning_media_campaign. Dove. Retrieved July 31, 2010 from, http://www. dove. us/#/cfrb/. Lehmann, D and Lotti, M. December 17, 2007). AMA Definition of Marketing. Retrieved August 1, 2010, from http://www. marketingpower. com/Community/ARC/Pages/Additional/Definition/default. aspx. McLaren, Carrie. Retrieved July 31, 2010, from http://ibiblio. org/pub/electronic-publications/stay free/archives/20/media_influence intro. html. Research on the Effects of Media Violence. Retrieved July 31, 2010, from http://www. media-awareness. ca/english/issues/violence/effects_media_violence. cfm The Mass Media and Politics. Retrieved July 30, 2010, from http://www. progressiveliving. org/mass_media_and_politics. htm.


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