Behavioral Mechanisms: Imitation, Disinhibition, and Arousal/Desensitization
All television is educational. The only question is: what does it teach?
-- Nicholas Johnson, Commissioner, FCC
As we have previously noted, the first step in discovering a direct effect of television is to describe the program content, and particularly that part of the content that may be said to offer a distortion of what we know as "everyday reality." Such distortions, because they misrepresent the world in specific ways, are useful in tracing the effects of television.
In chapter 3, we described a number of these distortions: television has more males, more wealthy persons, and more young upwardly mobile persons (Yuppies) than the mundane world of everyday life. The occupations shown on television are largely professional ones and/or related to law enforcement, and thus are less representative of blue collar and clerical occupations than ordinary reality. We saw that women tended to be presented in stereotypical ways, as are men, but the stereo-____________________