Gerbner is Dean emeritus (eh-mere-it-us) of Annenberg School of Communication

Cultivate-To fosters the growth of something.

Heavy television viewers develop an exaggerated belief that is a "mean and scary world".

The violence they see on the screen cultivates a social paranoia that blots out notions of trustworthy people or safe surroundings

Gerbner, as McLuhan, regards TV as the dominant force in shaping society

But unlike McLuhan who viewed the Medium as the Message: Gerbner is convinced that the power of television comes from the symbolic content of the real life drama of society, what exists, what is important, what is related to what. And what is right.

Gerbnerís voice is only one of many that proclaim a link between communication media and violence.

For almost two decades, he spearheaded an extensive research program that monitored the level of violence on television.

Looked at three variables

1. Classified people according to how much TV they watch

2. Perceptions of potential risk of violence to themselves

His explanation of the findings is one of the most talked about and argued over theories in mass communication.


The overt expression of physical force

1. With or without a weapon

2. Against self or others

3. The pain of being hurt or killed

4. Threatened

5. Victimized

A steamroller flattens even the roadrunner. Or Batman fighting the Jokerís henchmen with a BAM****SOCK*****POW*****

Annenberg researchers randomly selected a week during the fall season and videotaped every prime time (8-11pm) network show. They also recorded programming for children on Saturday and Sunday. (8am to 2pm)

After counting up all the incidents that fit their description, they measured the overall level of violence with a formula that included the ratio of programs

1.that scripted violence

2. The rate of violence in the programs

3. Percentage of characters involved in physical harm and killing

Concluded that the annul index is very high

The cumulative portrayal of violence varies little from year to year

Two thirds of prime time programs contain bodily harm or threatened violence

Dramas that include violence average 5 traumatic incidents per viewing hour.

By the time the typical viewer graduates from high school he or she has observed 13,000 violent deaths.

Children, seniors, females and ethnic groups see themselves harmed at a much greater rate than young middle aged adults

The symbolic vulnerability of minority group members is even more striking given their gross under representation in TV drama. Although 1/3 of our society is made up of children and teenagers, they appear as only 10 percent of the characters on prime time shows Not surprising, these are the very people who exhibit the most fear of violence when the TV set goes off.

Effects of heavy TV viewing can be seen only after years of slow build up. Cumulative

1. Chances of involvement with violence much higher

Light viewerís 1/100 (2 hours per day)

Heavy viewers1/10 (4 hours or more per day, television type)

Realistically 1/10,00

2. Fear of walking alone at night.

Heavy viewers over estimate criminal activity

3. Perceived activity of police.

Heavy viewers believe that 5 % of society peopled with police, judges, and government agents 4. General mistrust of people

Heavy viewers suspicious of other peopleís motives

Some exceptions include Home Improvement, Murphy Brown, Drew Carey and Friends are not typical


Wood, Julia. (1997) Communication Theories in Action: An Introduction Wadsworth Publishing Company.

McClish, Glen. (1997). Instructor's Manual to Accompany EM Griffin's A First Look at Communication Theory McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

Griffin, EM. (1997) A First Look at Communication Theory. McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

FILM: Braveheart