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Resonance as Mediator of Prime-Time Messages about Smoking
Unformatted Document Text:  Resonance as Mediator of Messages 5 programming. Sargent, Beach, Dalton, Mott, Tickle, Ahrens, and Heatherton (2001) found that middle-school students are exposed to more smoking in films than in real life; further, seeing such tobacco use in films was strongly and directly correlated with trying cigarettes during middle-school years. The present study extends the research on tobacco messages embedded in entertainment content by testing the influence of such messages in television programs on the attitudes of young adults toward smoking. An active processing model of media use suggests that television viewing is not passive. The manifest content of television does affect viewers, but individual processing of content mediates such effects. Using various theoretical frameworks, advocates of this approach posit that viewer’s backgrounds and experiences mediate their level of exposure to media content and their involvement with specific characters to produce different effects from the same media content. Cultivation theory posits that exposure to media messages over long periods of time has an accretion or “drip” effect on audiences. Over time, the worldview manifest in media content differentially influences the worldview of those with high levels of television exposure, when compared to those with low levels of television exposure. High levels of television viewing cultivates a worldview in audiences similar to television content and dissimilar to the world as it actually is. In multiple studies spanning several decades, significant cultivation effects have been documented; however, cultivation effect size is generally small (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1980; Reep & Dambrot, 1989; Shrum & Darmanin Bischak, 2001). Resonance, the degree to which television content resembles or resonates with life experiences of individual audience members, mediates the cultivation effects of televisual messages through active processing of information. When television content corresponds with life experiences of an individual audience member, exposure to that content exerts stronger cultivation effects than for audience members for whom television messages do not resonate (Gerbner et al., 1980; Shrum et al., 2001). That is, audiences exposed to the

Authors: Lauzen, Martha. and Dozier, David.
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Resonance as Mediator of Messages 5
programming. Sargent, Beach, Dalton, Mott, Tickle, Ahrens, and Heatherton (2001)
found that middle-school students are exposed to more smoking in films than in real life;
further, seeing such tobacco use in films was strongly and directly correlated with trying
cigarettes during middle-school years. The present study extends the research on tobacco
messages embedded in entertainment content by testing the influence of such messages in
television programs on the attitudes of young adults toward smoking.
An active processing model of media use suggests that television viewing is not
passive. The manifest content of television does affect viewers, but individual processing
of content mediates such effects. Using various theoretical frameworks, advocates of this
approach posit that viewer’s backgrounds and experiences mediate their level of exposure
to media content and their involvement with specific characters to produce different
effects from the same media content.
Cultivation theory posits that exposure to media messages over long periods of
time has an accretion or “drip” effect on audiences. Over time, the worldview manifest in
media content differentially influences the worldview of those with high levels of
television exposure, when compared to those with low levels of television exposure. High
levels of television viewing cultivates a worldview in audiences similar to television
content and dissimilar to the world as it actually is. In multiple studies spanning several
decades, significant cultivation effects have been documented; however, cultivation effect
size is generally small (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1980; Reep & Dambrot,
1989; Shrum & Darmanin Bischak, 2001).
Resonance, the degree to which television content resembles or resonates with life
experiences of individual audience members, mediates the cultivation effects of televisual
messages through active processing of information. When television content corresponds
with life experiences of an individual audience member, exposure to that content exerts
stronger cultivation effects than for audience members for whom television messages do
not resonate (Gerbner et al., 1980; Shrum et al., 2001). That is, audiences exposed to the


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