THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TELEVISION: PSYCHOLOGICAL MECHANISMS OF INFLUENCE
In the first section we saw how television, the device, was developed and then distributed throughout American society; how it quickly gained a steady audience, and how the program content achieved a degree of stability in its offerings. Most of this happened during the decade from 1950 to 1960.
Once the content of television is sufficiently stable and has an audience, then it is possible to begin to study the influence of this content on this audience. That is, we can begin to study the psychology of television. We saw that to trace an influence of television drama it was useful to know something about how the content was "distorted" relative to the content of the "real world" the drama is attempting to portray. We saw in chapter 3 that there are many such distortions, and that the most common of these was the distortion regarding the amount and nature of violence.
For psychologists, then, the first question regarding influence of television concerned the possible association between the amount and type of violence shown on television and a proclivity to act or think violently on the part of those who viewed it. If so, then the next question becomes: What is the nature of the psychology mechanism that allows this influence to occur? This is the heart of the psychology of television, the unmasking of a variety of psychological mechanisms that permit the information seen on television