ERIC Number: ED271096
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Jul
Television Entertainment and Viewers' Conceptions of Science.
Gerbner, George; And Others
This study of the role of television in the presentation and cultivation of public conceptions of science and technology investigated these issues: (1) the types of representation and information about scientists, science, and technology that are embedded in television programs; (2) types of images and beliefs about science that television tends to cultivate in different groups of viewers; (3) levels of scientific interest and information associated with television watching in different groups of viewers; (4) public policy conceptions and attitudes toward science cultivated by television; and (5) how the reading of science magazines and viewing of science documentaries modify television's contributions to conceptions of science. A message system analysis performed on a sample of prime-time dramatic programs broadcast between 1973 and 1983 revealed that, if medicine is included, the images of science and technology appear in 7 out of every 10 of these programs, and that, in addition to news and occasional documentaries, the average prime-time viewer will see 11 doctors and one or two other scientists each week. The results of a national telephone survey of adults (N=1,643) indicate that heavy watchers of television have less favorable attitudes toward science than those who watch television less, especially in groups whose light viewers are the most favorable (such as those who went to college); television viewing is associated with a less positive adults (N=1,643) view of scientists and new technologies; and heavy viewers show more willingness to place restrictions on science and evidence the opinion that scientists are odd and peculiar. While television appears to inhibit interest in science among the best informed, it also reduced the amount the most interested think they know. A list of references is provided, as well as extensive appendices, which contain 40 data tables, 23 figures, a description of the research methodology, and a sample survey instrument. (JB)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Pennsylvania Univ., Philadelphia. Annenberg School of Communications.