Author(s): Potter WJ
Television viewers who say they are exposed to greater amounts of television are predicted to be more likely (compared to viewers who say they are exposed to lessor amounts) to exhibit perceptions and beliefs that reflect the television world messages. Researchers who have provided tests of this proposition have relied on two methods. Content analysis has been used to determine the frequency of certain messages in the television world. Then survey methods were used to ask viewers about their perceptions and beliefs concerning the real world. Cultivation theory forces researchers to confront three important methodological questions: (1) How should television exposure be measured? (2) How should cultivated perceptions be measured? and (3) What is the appropriate test for the relationship between exposure and perceptions? The beginning point for answering each of these questions is to focus on the conceptualizations in the theory. This has been helpful up to a point (for a conceptual critiques of the theory, see Bryant, 1986, and Potter, 1993). Most researchers, however, have seemed to rely more on the measurement and analysis practices in the empirical literature. While this literature has been very helpful in demonstrating that there is a cultivation effect, this empirical work also contains some troubling methodological problems.