Psychology and the Media

Intro to Psychology

How do media affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions?

  • Laugh tracks take advantage of conformity - altering behaviors/opinions to match those of others.
    • Why?
      • You think that other people know the right answer (informational basis)
      • To fit in (normative basis)
  • Study: watched debate with other people, some vocally pro-Democrat and others vocally pro-Republican. This affects people’s impressions of the debate.
  • Another study: on-screen line graphs favor Democrat or Republican. This also sways people’s opinions of the candidates’ performances.
  • Examples
    • Political attitudes
    • Marketing/advertising
  • In a study that Facebook performed on their users, emotional content of your Facebook feed affected the emotional sentiment in what people posted.

How accurate are media depictions of psychological issues?

  • The best predictor for future behavior is past behavior.
  • You need to account for initial behavior when trying to track down a change.
  • TV viewing and video game playing are far weaker predictors of attentional problems than past attentional problems.