Cognitive Mechanisms 1:
The Influence of Television
on Attitudes, Beliefs,
What assumptions does television cultivate about the facts, norms, and values of society?
-- George Gerbner
Television influences human behavior because there are "routes" or mechanisms whereby the content of television can have an effect on what we do, and on how we act. Thus, part of television's influence comes about because of how we learn (by observation and imitation), because of how we respond to certain kinds of story material (arousal/desensitization), and because of the structure of our inhibitions and the way television provides the kind of stimulation necessary to release them (disinhibition). I called these behavioral mechanisms, because for the most part the influence was shown on some activity.
Television also influences what we believe and think about the world, and it does so, again, because of our make-up, our psychology. Just as the behavioral effects have behavioral mechanisms, the cognitive effects of television have cognitive mechanisms based on the structure of attitudes, beliefs, and judgments, and on the way in which these cognitive structures are acquired.