ERIC Number: ED217441
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Jul
Reference Count: 0
"Learned Helplessness" and In-Depth Television News.
Levy, Mark R.; Rickard, Alan K.
A study was conducted to examine whether "Segment Three" (a minidocumentary series aired weekdays from 1977 to 1979 on the "NBC Nightly News") consisted of highly dramatic, conflict-oriented messages that emphasized and exaggerated the inability of individuals to predict and control their own lives (learned helplessness). The "central" figures of 137 segments were identified, including well-known individuals or groups, as well as "unknowns" symbolizing more abstract concepts such as status, social class, or national peoples. Researchers then rated each figure on a five-point "helplessness" scale, based on the figure's comparative inability to affect the outcome of events or behaviors described. Results showed that more than 25% of the figures were rated as not helpless, while approximately 40% were rated as strongly or completely helpless. The remaining figures were rated mildly or moderately helpless. Five types of figures accounted for almost 62% of all central figures: American public, foreign nations, United States politicians and public officials, business persons or organizations, and persons with diseases or illnesses. In those segments where the central figure was the American public, the mean helplessness score was markedly higher than the average for the entire sample. It is clear that the in-depth reports of "Segment Three" mirror a reality of perceived helplessness. (HTH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Reality; Segment Three (NBC News); Television Documentaries
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism (65th, Athens, OH, July 25-28, 1982).