Heavy TV viewers likely to have different worldview

June 23, 2007 at 1:09 pm 4 comments

A study from earlier this month commissioned by the Culture and Media Institute reveals that people who watch a lot of TV have a distinctly different worldview than lighter viewers. From the executive summary of the study:

The most telling finding is that increased exposure to television correlates with a decline in acceptance of personal responsibility. According to the survey, the more hours people spend in front of the television, the less likely they are to accept personal responsibility for their own lives and for their obligations to the people around them. They are less likely to conduct themselves honestly, and they are more likely to hold permissive attitudes about moral issues like divorce, extramarital sex, homosexuality and abortion. They are less likely to honor Godly values and religion in public life.

I’m not wild about the report’s title (which is “The Media Assault on American Values”), as it implies that TV is responsible for prompting liberal (“bad”) values in its viewers. In fact, the study doesn’t seem to prove this point. It could be that individuals with more liberal leanings are simply more likely to watch TV.

Still, for whatever reason, the correlation between liberal values and time in front of the tube seems strong. That point is worth considering for its own sake.

[Hat tip: Boundless Line]

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stephen  |  June 23, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Interesting.

    But which is cause and which is the effect? This kind of study always raises three possibilities. In this case:

    (1) TV watching causes liberal values.
    (2) Having liberal values predisposes one to watch TV for some reason.
    (3) There is some third, unidentified variable which causes both of the other variables.

    My suspicions lie with number three. What might the third, unidentified variable be?

    Education? People with less education may watch more TV, but liberal values often correlate with higher education.

    Religion? This strikes me as a possibility. Religious people waste less time watching TV (in part because they’re involved in church activities) and they also have relatively conservative values. That strikes me as a distinct possibility.

    Youth? This is another possibility. Younger people may watch more TV and may also take less responsibility for others (partly because they genuinely have fewer responsibilities).

    Note that in either of the above possibilities, TV watching does not cause liberal values.

    Reply
  • 2. Nottelling  |  June 23, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    do you approve of tv?

    Reply
  • 3. Jamie  |  June 24, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Stephen: I agree that there could be an independent factor that prompts both TV watching AND liberal values, rather than TV watching being the cause of said values.

    That said, I’m personally suspicious that TV encourages liberal perspectives. At the moment, though, that’s just opinion/speculation, and I can’t exactly back it up.

    Nottelling: Well, I “approve” of TV in about the same way I approve of perscription drugs: In some cases, both are very useful, but they’re awfully prone to misuse as well. As for my own viewing habits, about the only time I ever actually watch TV is when I’m trapped in a chair at the dentist’s office and they have a set on right in front of my face for an hour. In other words, I don’t see much, but I wouldn’t exactly say I “approve” or “disapprove” of TV. It’s just a medium, and it’s what you do with it that matters.

    Reply
  • 4. VWFringe  |  March 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I watched, and lived within, the television media bubble, for 49 years, until about two years ago. My views have changed considerably as I’ve exposed myself to more sides of each story, and can see the spin easier now. But I’ve stopped watching the corporate news, because like fast food, its not what it’s supposed to be.

    One thing I’ve noticed across the board, TV news, and network script edits to our favorite shows: they are all lobbying US citizens hard to be tougher on personal responsibility, even if you have a brain-tumor we’re being asked to see that person as responsible for their actions, even though the science tells us certain individuals have a problem with impulsive behavior.

    My impression, over the past couple of years where I had outside sources to compare dominant narratives to, is that the media is pressing us to support certain themes in personal responsibility, to the extent they are asking us to feel bad about the baby-boomers who are about to suck up all the money for Medicaid and Social Security. It all makes sense when you begin to understand their political agenda, and how their main product is their audience.

    Sucks to be an American, if you want the news, or to enjoy a romance without talking points,

    Reply

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Profile

profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

Email me: jamie.kiley@gmail.com

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