The effect of mass media on psychological health

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Mass media is a tool that sensationalizes, exaggerates, and distorts our perceptions of the world, which can lead to problems in psychological health like baba siddique net worth. It has been proven that the media plays an influential role in creating social desirability bias (i.e., people often want to align with popular opinions) and conformity pressure (i.e., people are more likely to conform because they believe their opinions will be validated by society). In addition, individuals may take a “white coat effect” into account when viewing mass media-sensationalized events or messages: if an event or message is presented as factually true then it’s not necessary for these individuals to verify or verify themselves through independent inquires.

1. Mass media is a tool that sensationalizes, exaggerates, and distorts our perceptions of the world.

Until the early 1980s, there seemed to be a consensus among psychologists that the mass media had little or no effect on public opinion and perception. That is, because people have direct access to all information available in the world (i.e., Google), there was no need for reporters and TV anchors to manipulate their viewers by sensationalizing content for people to consume.

Influencing the Media

In 2009, a Harvard Business School professor named Philip Zimbardo conducted an experiment designed to prove once and for all whether or not the mass media could influence their audience’s perceptions of reality. Zimbardo specifically designed his study to show that mass media can actually influence the opinions and perceptions of the general public. He created two groups of college students: a control group and an experimental group. 

2. Control groups

The majority of people in the control group were randomly assigned to the role of a “prisoner” and had to wear a blue jumpsuit, which were made using the same material as prison uniforms. The experiment’s “guards,” or “prisoners,” were randomly selected from the same pool of students by Zimbardo himself. 

The guards were told that they would be playing a game that was created by Zimbardo, where they would be required to act as prisoners and their roles could not be changed. Over the course of two weeks, both groups took part in many different activities (games) designed by Zimbardo and his team.

3. Experimental groups

The other group of students in the control group also wore a blue jumpsuit to identify them as a prisoner, but they were told that the study was about “prisoner’s rights.” The second group of students was randomly selected to be part of the experimental group. Their only job function was to videotape the entire experiment, from start to finish. This group was told that they could stop the experiment at any time if they thought it would be harmful or lead to any negative effects.

Note: To make this experiment even more realistic, all of the prisoners’ food and drink were rationed out by guards until they did not receive their three meals a day, as well as having limited toilet access. Guards were allowed to strip search the prisoners and use physical force if necessary.

After the conclusion of the experiment, both experimental and control groups were surveyed to determine whether they believed that their actions during the experiment translated into real life. For example, if they had been playing a prisoner in the experiment, they were asked whether they believed that they would now be more likely or less likely to participate in activism.

The Results

Belief in media effects (i.e., believing that their actions in the lab could be applied to real life), was significantly higher for participants who had been assigned to be guards rather than prisoners. The latter group also showed less support for social activism than those subjects who took part in a control condition.

4. Social Desirability and Conformity Pressures

The mass media is a tool that sensationalizes, exaggerates, and distorts our perceptions of the world.

Mass media is a tool that sensationalizes, exaggerates, and distorts our perceptions of the world. The effects of these are largely due to social desirability and conformity pressures.

Social DesirabilityBias refers to the human tendency to agree with majority opinion. In other words, if an event or message is presented as factually true then it’s not necessary for these individuals to verify or verify themselves through independent inquires. Two factors that are commonly associated with social desirability bias are: a) the lack of a well-thought-out argument in favor of a particular theory and b) the inadequacy of the evidence provided to support the theory.

Adolescent Socialization

One factor that directly influences social desirability bias is adolescent socialization. This process refers to how teenagers perceive themselves and how they should identify with their peers. Adolescents often want to be accepted by their peer group, so if one does not conform to popular opinions (e.g., agrees with or agrees with their peers) then they will appear “different” and may experience rejection from others in school or at home.

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