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date: 13 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Cultivation theory hypothesizes that over time, heavy television viewers will see the world through TV’s lens. A review of nearly 1,000 media effects articles from sixteen major journals (1993–2005) identified cultivation theory as the most frequently cited communication theory. Despite the controversies it has elicited, a meta-analysis found small but consistent effects in line with the theory. This chapter identifies six broad political effects cultivation theorists attribute to heavy viewing of television or specific genres of television content: increased fear of crime and identification of crime as a significant problem, activation of racialized perceptions, support for punitive policies and embrace of protective behaviors, identification as a political moderate, reduction in social trust and capital in adolescents, and activation of cynicism and depressed learning in political campaigns.

Keywords: Cultivation theory, mean world hypothesis, mainstreaming, resonance, Cultural Indicators Project

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