Presentation on theme: "Effects of prosocial portrayals on television on social behavior"— Presentation transcript:
1 Effects of prosocial portrayals on television on social behavior
2 Meta-analysis of studies of prosocial portrayals Marie-Louise Mares (1996)Sponsored by Annenberg Public Policy Center, University of Pennsylvania
3 “It is commonly held that television viewing does more harm than good, especially to young audiences.”
4 “Prosocial”“it is not as easy as it first seems to sort out which behaviors are positive and which are negative. This is more than a hazy relativism. It is naïve to assume that all groups in society place equal value on cooperation (rather than rugged individualism), tolerance of others (rather than willingness to stick up for one’s own group), nonviolent conflict resolution (rather than heroism), or ability to resist temptation (rather than ability to seize the moment). Nonetheless, all these have been used as prosocial outcomes in research.”
5 “Effects are strongest when the behavior that is modeled is salient, clearly portrayed, and can be easily incorporated into a child’s everyday interactions”Kotler, p. 817
6 AltruismChildren who were given tokens, then shown portrayals of a model acting generously, (donating prize money to charity) were more likely to donate tokens to charity compared to children who watched a model behave selfishly (cashing in winnings for a big prize) or in a neutral manner
7 Positive interactions Lynette Friedrich and Aletha Huston-Stein found that children who had viewed Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood exhibited more friendly behavior in the school playground compared to those who viewed neutral content. Studies of Barney and Friends indicate that children learn about cooperation and friendship through viewing the show.
8 Self-control and persistence Studies of self-control include programs that focus on resistance to temptation, obedience to rules, and persistence at a task. The self-control studies are often set up as lab experiments similar to the studies on altruism. Many studies conducted in the 1970s indicated that children who view models who are able to resist temptation (e.g., resisting playing with a forbidden toy, eating forbidden food) are more likely to demonstrate self-control compared to children who view models who indulge in forbidden activities.
9 In a more recent study, children who viewed 20 episodes of Dragon Tales, a show designed to encourage children to pursue challenges, more frequently chose to pursue challenging tasks, compared to those who were not exposed to the series.
10 Reduction of stereotypes Early evaluations of Sesame Street found that Caucasian preschoolers had more positive attitudes toward African Americans and Latino Americans after viewing Sesame Street over the course of the 2-year study.A more recent study of the Israeli-Palestinian production of Sesame Street showed that viewing led to an increase in prosocial problem solving and more positive attitudes toward children of the other group.
11 Content characteristics Portrayals can be transferred to children’s livesLikely to occur in their own lives (including other kids v. comfort for loss)Reality v. fictional story
12 Combining prosocial and violent content may backfire Linda Silverman found that 3-year olds who saw a Sesame Street segment with conflict followed by resolution were less cooperativeMarsha Liss and Lauri Reinhardt found that combinations of prosocial and antisocial acts in the cartoon series Superfriends led to more aggressive behavior than either prosocial or antisocial depictions alone
13 Viewer characteristics Prosocial depictions have similar effect onBoys and girlsKids of different races or ethnicityMay be more effective for kids from middle- or upper-class homesEffect of prosocial content appears to increase between ages of 3 and 7, and then decline
14 Context The effect of prosocial content is enhanced by adult coviewing Parents in the homeTeachers in schoolSupplementary materials enhance impact
15 Prosocial contentGreenberg and colleagues analyzed the favorite programs of a sample of fourth, sixth, and eighth graders. They found that these programs contained an average of 44.2 acts of prosocial behavior in an average hour. The prosocial behavior included displays of altruism and empathy and discussion of feelings. The researchers also found that the violence was just as frequent, however. A recent study conducted by Deborah Weber and Dorothy Singer analyzed the favorite programs and videos viewed by children age 2 and under. They found many occurrences of prosocial behavior, including sharing, helping, and manners. For example, in the video Sesame Street: Learning to Share, there were 45 instances of positive social behaviors.
16 CommercialsCommercials also contain examples of prosocial behavior. In one study, prosocial behavior appeared in 59% of all children’s commercials. Friendly behaviors were the most common forms of prosocial behavior, with 42% of all commercials containing examples of affection between characters. Helping and teaching were common altruistic behaviors, appearing in 21% of all commercials. Mary Strom Larson analyzed 595 commercials in children’s programming and found that commercials depicting only girls showed almost all cooperative interactions (i.e., 85% of the time). Mixed boy and girl commercials primarily portrayed cooperative interactions (51%), compared to boys only commercials, which contained primarily competitiverinteractions.—Jennifer A. Kotler
17 Present characters who exhibit only prosocial behavior. V. O. Lovelace and A. C. Huston have identified three strategies for modeling prosocial behavior for children through the media.Present characters who exhibit only prosocial behavior.Could be boringIncorporate story lines in which characters resolve conflict by making prosocial choices. Positive consequences are attributed to prosocial behavior and negative consequences to antisocial behavior.Concern over modeling of antisocial behaviorsPresent both prosocial and antisocial behaviors without presenting a resolution within the program. Rather, the viewer is asked to offer his or her own solution to the presented conflict.considered most effective in classroom or therapeutic settings, where an adult can supervise postviewing discussion or activity.
18 Impact of viewing prosocial behavior Just as in learning violent behavior, prosocial behavior can be learned by observationProsocial behavior can be induced by emotional responses to television portrayalsUnlike violent portrayals (according to Rushton), there is a social norm to help one another
19 Rushton:“If we asked a stranger in the street for directions, we would expect him or her to provide the information if possible and to apologize if not. If the stranger were instead to turn to us and say ‘Yes I do know where that place is but I can’t be bothered to tell you,’ we would be rather surprised.”
20 Differences among individuals “Research on prosocial behavior finds that individuals tend to be consistent in the degree to which they display prosocial behavior, but there is some variation between individuals.”Likely that prosocial acts receive spontaneous rewardMedia effects should be at least as strong for prosocial as for violent portrayals
21 Sample of studies 1966-1995 Studies included if they: Involved exposure to television content deemed prosocial or positive by the researchers,Measured a relevant behavioral outcome of exposure, andContained enough statistical information to allow for calculation of effect sizesDifferent age groups and different genders were treated as separate samplesYield: 39 usable sources; 185 effect sizes
22 Overall effect sizes for prosocial content dNProsocial v. Other.28104Prosocial v. antisocial.4059
23 Effect of prosocial content on positive interaction dNProsocial v. Other.2741Prosocial v. antisocial.3014
24 Effect of prosocial content on altruism dNProsocial v. Other.6125Prosocial v. antisocial.56
25 Effect of prosocial content on self-control dNProsocial v. Other.2312Prosocial v. antisocial.5314
26 Effect of prosocial content on antistereotyping dNProsocial v. Other.2926Prosocial v. antisocial--
27 Age differences in the effect of prosocial content Prosocial v. otherProsocial v. antisocialAged (N)d (N)5 and under(40)(15)6-10(31)(22)11+(33)(15)
28 Susan Hearold“A synthesis of 1043 effects of television on social behavior”1986Covers both prosocial and antisocial effects230 studies1,043 treatment comparisons
29 Outline of studies in sample 170 published, 60 unpublished131 lab experiments, 33 field experiments, 66 surveys9 pre-1950; 10 from ; 36 from ; 175 from
30 Antisocial treatments Mixture132Detective/crime129Demonstrated behavior119Drama110Cartoon51News34Western31Consumerism26Cartoons and comedy10Mixed moviesSanford & Son/All in the Family8Other19
31 Prosocial treatments Demonstrated behavior 48 Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood42Drama31Public service ads and programs21Mixture13Lassie6Big Blue MarbleComedy4Patrik and PutrikOther14
32 Types of antisocial behavior Physical aggression330Physical and verbal aggression120Approval of aggression and indirect aggression39Rule breaking33Materialism26Verbal aggression23Unlawful behavior14Perception of world as violent10Use of drugs9Stereotyping8Play with aggressive toysOther57
33 Types of prosocial behavior Altruism98Acceptance of others/antistereotyping37Social interaction23Engages in activities21Safety, health14Mixture13Buys books12Follows norms/conventions11Respects the lawCooperation7Imaginative/creative playAffiliation6Other46
34 Effect sizes for antisocial behavior Effect Size (ES)Antisocial v. other528.30Antisocial v. prosocial40.65Prosocial v. other48-.20
35 Effect sizes for prosocial behavior NESAntisocial v. other152-.01Antisocial v. prosocial33-.38Prosocial v. other108.63
36 Prosocial effect size by treatment Prosocial treatmentAvg. effect sizeDemonstrated behavior1.02Simulate programs (usually drama).79Public service adsTV Programs overall.59Lassie1.16Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.68Sesame Street/Electric Company.58Big Blue Marble.57Comedy.54Mixed Programs.18Patrik and Putrik-.73
37 Effect sizes for assorted prosocial behaviors Self-control.98Altruism.83Buy books.81Mixture of socially desirable behaviors.78Safety, health, conservation activism.69Positive attitude toward work.57Antistereotyping; acceptance of othersRespect for the law.23Play without aggression.21Socially active/communicative.17Creative, imaginative play.02Cooperation.00
38 What do we mean by “prosocial” Not as easy to define as one might thinkWhich is more important, the intent or the effect?“The road to hell is paved with good intentions”“Enlightened self-interest”Without intent, any good outcome suddenly becomes evidence of moral behaviorWhen one group benefits and another is disadvantaged, is the act “prosocial”?Can one benefit from “pro-social” behavior? Can one’s family?
39 “Prosocial” working definition For our use, a person will engage in prosocial behavior when she intentionally commits any act which will be likely to improve her own condition or the condition of someone elseOne can (and as we see later, hopefully does) feel good about the actIf one is compelled to act in a certain way then she is not acting prosocially, though the person requiring the act may beContributions to Red Cross taken out of your check while the boss looks on
40 What kinds of prosocial acts have been proposed? AltruismControl of aggressive impulsesDelay of gratification/task persistenceExplaining feelings of self or othersReparation for bad behaviorResistance to temptationSympathyLiebert & Sprafkin
41 Prosocial effects Minor part of effects study Most study in late 70s and early 80sFindings reviewed in a number of meta-analysesRushtonHearoldPaikMares
42 Most common concern is the learning of prosocial behavior by children (socialization) Part of the 1960s-1970s concern over the development of television as an educational mediumEducational contentProsocial contentOften the two are combined (Sesame Street)
43 Prosocial effects Conclusions Prosocial content can lead to positive behavioral outcomesEffects of prosocial comparable in strength to antisocialScholars disagree on which is strongerAltruism most effective prosocial portrayal
44 Prosocial effectsEffect of prosocial content on boys not significantly different from the effect on girlsPaik, 1995Greater effect for family sitcoms than for educational programmingEffects positive for all agesHigher effect for donation than for prosocial play or cooperationEffect of stereotyping greater than effect of anti-stereotyping content
45 Hearold, 1986Synthesis of 1043studies of effects of television on social behavior“Effect sizes for prosocial treatments and behavior, of course, were consistently greater than for antisocial treatments on behavior.”“The implication is that if subjects watched the antisocial treatments, usually violent programs or episodes, they would be elevated from the 50th to the 62nd percentile in antisocial behavior, typically physical aggression, and if they watched the prosocial treatment, they would be elevated from the 50th to the 74th percentile in prosocial behavior, typically altruism.”
46 Critique of studies Stimulus materials usually either: depictions of prosocial behavior developed specifically to elicit the behavior, orEither Mister Rogers Neighborhood or Sesame StreetNormal tv fare sends mixed messagesprosocial violencecharacters exhibiting good and bad behaviors
47 Prosocial content research Liebert, Sprafkin, Rubinstein and othersmid 70sGreenberg et al.late 70sBaxter & Kaplanearly 80sLeePotter & Warelate 80s
52 Comparison of pro- and antisocial behavior primetime (Kaplan & Baxter, 1982) Note: 12 hours, 17 programs
53 Prosocial contentRelative incidence of prosocial and antisocial acts varies widely among studiesGreenberg et al., about 42 pro and 40 anti acts per hourKaplan & Baxter, 46 pro and 17 anti per hourAltruismGreenberg et al, 14 acts/hour, most common pro-social actPotter & Ware, 2 acts/hr, 5th most common
54 Prosocial and antisocial acts per hour of primetime programming
55 Prosocial content Males engage in most prosocial acts Potter & Ware 67% of pro, 80% of antiBaxter & Kaplan, 69% of pro, 78% of antiHowever, more male charactersGreat majority of both violent and prosocial acts are seen as justifiedOutcome of prosocial acts not reviewed
56 Proportion of prosocial and antisocial acts committed by gender (Greenberg et al. primetime study)
57 Prosocial contentMost analyses exclude violent content from prosocial analysesSome evidence of a significant amount of prosocial violenceHeroes commit a significant amount of violenceSaturday morning tv
58 Liss and Reinhardt Regular and prosocial Saturday morning cartoons Antagonists commit more violent acts than protagonistsNo significant difference in amount of violence on regular and prosocial cartoons
59 Prosocial content Relationships among actors Involvement of third partiesRewards for altruismSocial support
60 The method: finding and measuring altruism Primetime programs recorded for one week on ABC, NBC and Fox networks26.5 hours of programming included in the studyOnly regularly scheduled series included (no movies, game shows, sports, news)Unit of analysis: the altruistic act
61 Defining altruism“social behavior carried out to achieve positive outcomes for another rather than for the self” (Rushton, 1980)must include some nontrivial self-sacrificeleaves open the possibility of antisocial altruism
62 Acts of altruism Risking life, health or safety Risking career or futureSacrificing moneySacrificing or giving up timeSacrificing something of personal value, a dream or satisfactionNot included: common courtesy or minimal sacrifice
63 Measuring altruistic acts on TV Relationship of benefactor and beneficiaryFriends, neighbors or coworkersMere acquaintancesStrangersSuperior and subordinateSubordinate and superiorFamilyLovers or romantically involved
64 Measuring altruistic acts on TV Gender of beneficiary and benefactorRelationship to violenceInvolvement of a third partyOutcome of the act for any third partyImmediate response to the act by the benefactor and the beneficiaryLong-term outcome of the act for the benefactor and the beneficiary
65 Measuring altruistic acts on TV Coding the justification of the actsWas it part of the benefactor’s job?Was it expected under the circumstances?Was this above and beyond what would be expected?
66 Measuring altruistic acts on TV Coding instrument was pretestedBoth authors viewed two hour long programs(Neither program included in results)Programs were recorded on videotape and later codedSecond author coded all programsNo “sweeps month” programs included
67 Research questions1: What is the rate for altruistic behavior in primetime programming?2: Is there a relationship between the gender of the benefactor and the gender of the beneficiary of the altruistic acts?3. What is relationship between the benefactor and the beneficiary?4: What is the nature of the altruistic act?
68 Research questions5: What are the consequences of the altruistic act for the benefactor and the beneficiary?OutcomeResponse
69 Results27 acts of altruism identified in 26.5 hours of primetime programmingJust over one act per hour (1.1 acts/hour)Fewer than in previous research
75 Results Altruistic acts rarely tied to violence Most acts (63%) exceeded expectations of occupation or social normsOutcome for third parties was negative more than half the time
76 ConclusionsResults of altruism are as likely to be negative as to be positiveGender is less related to TV altruistic acts than in the pastAltruistic violence is uncommon
77 More conclusionsDefinition of altruism is critical to outcome of the analysisLarger sample is neededMultiple codersMore extensive analyses are neededMonitoring much like violence studiesDramatic function of violence and prosocial acts