Media Molding Your Mind
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Media Molding Your Mind

The cultivation theory- how media affects your subconscious mind

Whether one is young or old, regardless of sex or sexual orientation, despite the race one identifies with-pop culture affects a person in one way or another. In this day and age, television provides an influence of great magnitude in almost every person's life. In a majority of cases television serves a purpose to solely entertain an audience and provide an escape away from the trite nine-to-five reality we are all forced to face each and every day. But what happens when we stop perceiving these fictional television programs as a mere product of Hollywood and begin to take it as truth? The phenomena of confusing media influence with reality is referred to as the cultivation theory and some researchers believe it is a common occurrence which only continues to distort the way a television audience views life outside the programs they watch.

Affects of the cultivation theory can change the way people view their neighbors, their own body image, professional careers, and numerous other themes that are constantly projected across our television screens. Currently, television shows about law and about the medical profession are very popular within the realm of television. Researchers have explored the way the cultivation theory can change the way we view these professions and our expectations and standards that go along with the people who make such professions their careers.

The cultivation theory has been explored through examining the affects of crime shows on television and the ways in which these programs impact viewers. Almost every time one turns on the television and begins to channel surf, without fail a program such as Law and Order, Cops, or Judge Judy can be selected for one's viewing pleasure. The cultivation theory suggests that many people take fictional products of Hollywood and implement it into their lives as something more meaningful. People have been known to excuse themselves from watching the news because they would rather watch something more exciting such as Law and Order; with the justification that because Law and Order derives influence from real-life crimes, the show is therefore updated on current events just as much as the news. Because people focus mainly on the entertainment value of television, the general attitude toward television programs is not very critical as to whether or not the events portrayed on screen are truly realistic. However, even though viewers are very well aware that the characters are merely actors and the events are stunted and taking place on a green screen or studio setting; people inevitably store these stories somewhere within their subconscious and subsequently they are still often directly affected in their perceptions of the real world. People who watch a lot of television dramas are more likely to believe they will be mugged in New York City or that the world of sex drugs and prostitutes that is so embraced by the media is more prevalent than it really is. The lack of real world experience in these settings and the heavy viewing of television combine to provide the viewer with fictional information that can often be confused as factual.

The crime genre is not the only popular theme in which the media makes out to be a dramatic or glamorous career. The medical profession is very popular in main stream media because of shows such as Grey's Anatomy. Very often the viewers have little experience with performing surgery or operating in an emergency room and as a result are more open to perceive shows like Grey's Anatomy as realistic. Heavy viewers have also been known to expect doctors to be courageous and heroic because of the dramatic scenes they witness on screen.

It is important to remember the cultivation theory can be sound but only in certain circumstances. In order for people to be influenced by what they see on television they must be exceptionally heavy viewers of television; and more specifically they must heavily view a direct genre such as crime or medical dramas. These shows only mold viewers' perceptions because generally the audience is not experienced in either field during their day-to-day lives besides- from the comfort of the living room couch and the high definition screen on the wall.

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