The Cultivation Theory

We don’t do a lot of television reviews at dove.org. Yet. But we’re watching closely and studying the Cultivation Theory

Cultivation theory examines the long-term effects of television. “The primary proposition of cultivation theory states that the more time people spend ‘living’ in the television world, the more likely they are to believe social reality aligns with reality portrayed on television.”[1] Under this umbrella, perceptions of the world are heavily influenced by the images and ideological messages transmitted through popular television media.

Seth Godin’s blog post this week caught my attention because from a parent’s perspective and as a person of faith, this whole concept sits squarely in our mission. Here’s the excerpt and link.

Seeing and believing

It turns out that the more you watch TV, the more you believe that the world is dangerous. It turns out TV watchers believe that an astonishing 5% (!) of the population works in law enforcement. And it turns out that the more you watch TV the less optimistic you become. Cultivation theory helps us understand the enormous power that TV immersion has.

Given the overwhelming power of interaction, I’m confident that we’ll discover that internet exposure, particularly to linkbait headlines, comments and invective, will also change what people believe about the world around them.

It’s hopeful to imagine that we can change these outcomes by changing the inputs. Of course, the hard part is choosing to do so.

Every time I see a toddler in a stroller with an internet device in hand, I shudder.

If we want a better future, it helps to be able to see the world as it is.