it was done. I am sure I have omitted some important studies, but I hope they are few. I have tried to organize what is there into a coherent whole while retaining the perspective of the various researchers involved.

I have called the book The Psychology of Television because it is an attempt to organize and make sense of the psychological literature about the influence of television. I have tried to describe neither the sociological literature, which in any case is relatively small, nor, except occasionally, the literature of the field of communications. Much of the television research in communications is done by psychologists, however, and where it fits it is discussed, as for example with the research on "needs and gratifications" described in chapter 2.

Whenever possible I have tried to describe the psychological mechanisms that are responsible for the influence of television, and I hope that description proves useful. A mechanism is simply a causal route linking some event in the world (on television in this case) to some behavioral event or cognitive structure within the individual. If violence on television has the consequence of making those who are exposed to it more violent, then there must be some mechanism (actually there are several) that allow this cause to have this effect. Knowing these mechanisms allows us to be more precise about the effects of television, and in some cases it allows us to deny the existence of an effect. Consider, for example, the case of "subliminals."

It is widely contended that some kind of subliminal message may be inserted in visual or auditory material that will directly influence the subconscious mind, bypassing the conscious mind entirely, and having direct effects on some behavior. Such messages are credited with helping people lose weight, cope with stress, and improve their sex lives, among other things. But because there is no known mechanism for such effects we have reason to doubt their existence. For any cause to have an effect there must be some causal route that makes it possible. There are many such mechanisms for the influence of television, but there are none for the influence of subliminal messages, so we know that there is no such effect, regardless of how many people believe that there is. Any scientific inquiry should be able to help us sort the real from the fantastic, and that is just what I have tried to do by describing the findings of research in terms of the known mechanisms of influence.

The book is organized into three broad sections each with its own brief introduction: Part I: Essential Facts and Initial Effects, Part II: The Psychology of Television, and Part III: Regulations and Speculations. The heart and soul of the book is the second part, The Psychology of Television, but the other parts have their place. The material in the first three chapters on essential facts and initial effects is useful and

-xii-

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