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Environmental Concern, Patterns of Television Viewing, and Pro-Environmental Behaviors
Unformatted Document Text:  TV-Environment 3 Environmental Concern, Patterns of Television Viewing, and Pro-Environmental Behaviors: Integrating Models of Media Consumption and Effects The study of media and the environment is long standing within the field of mass communication, with researchers examining media treatment of the environment from a wide range of epistemological and theoretical perspectives. Empirical studies typically focus on public affairs content and its influence on individual-level environmental knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors (Atwater, Salwen, & Anderson, 1985; Brother, Fortner, & Mayer, 1991; McLeod, Glynn, & Griffin, 1987). Other scholars focus on media’s construction of environmental issues from a cultural perspective, considering a broad range of communication content and consequences (e.g., Daley & O’Neill, 1991; Farrell & Goodnight, 1981). To date, the most exhaustive empirical work completed on the relationship between television use and environmental orientations comes from Shanahan, McComas, and colleagues (e.g., McComas, Shanahan, & Butler, 2001; McComas & Shanahan, 1999; Shanahan, 1993; Shanahan & McComas, 1997, 1999; Shanahan, Morgan, & Stenbjerre, 1997). Their studies examine television’s portrayal of the environment and the effects of these portrayals on individuals’ environmental beliefs and feelings. Their effects studies are typical of cultivation research (e.g., Signorielli & Morgan, 1990), focusing on total television use and its relationship to environmental beliefs. Although Shanahan et al. (1997) provide a convincing argument for the utility of a cultivation approach for studying the effects of television use on environmental knowledge and attitudes, empirical support for this perspective in this context is generally mixed. Indeed, Shanahan and Morgan (1999) detail the assumptions about television made by cultivation theory and state that any insights provided by this line of research are in part a function of those assumptions. In short, cultivation is but one approach to the study of television influence. In response, the present study merges insights from existing cultivation research with media uses and gratifications to examine the dispositional and motivational underpinnings of particular patterns of television viewing and the consequences of viewing certain kinds of television content for engaging in pro-environmental behaviors. We contend that research should consider a host of variables, including environmental attitudes, that are exogenous to behavioral variables such as television viewing and social actions. Thus, the perspective advanced by this research considers both the direct effects of various forms of television viewing and their potential mediating roles in the relationship between environmental attitudes and behaviors.

Authors: Holbert, R. Lance., Kwak, Nojin. and Shah, Dhavan.
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TV-Environment 3
Environmental Concern, Patterns of Television Viewing, and Pro-Environmental Behaviors:
Integrating Models of Media Consumption and Effects
The study of media and the environment is long standing within the field of mass communication, with
researchers examining media treatment of the environment from a wide range of epistemological and theoretical
perspectives. Empirical studies typically focus on public affairs content and its influence on individual-level
environmental knowledge, attitudes, or behaviors (Atwater, Salwen, & Anderson, 1985; Brother, Fortner, & Mayer,
1991; McLeod, Glynn, & Griffin, 1987). Other scholars focus on media’s construction of environmental issues from
a cultural perspective, considering a broad range of communication content and consequences (e.g., Daley &
O’Neill, 1991; Farrell & Goodnight, 1981).
To date, the most exhaustive empirical work completed on the relationship between television use and
environmental orientations comes from Shanahan, McComas, and colleagues (e.g., McComas, Shanahan, & Butler,
2001; McComas & Shanahan, 1999; Shanahan, 1993; Shanahan & McComas, 1997, 1999; Shanahan, Morgan, &
Stenbjerre, 1997). Their studies examine television’s portrayal of the environment and the effects of these
portrayals on individuals’ environmental beliefs and feelings. Their effects studies are typical of cultivation
research (e.g., Signorielli & Morgan, 1990), focusing on total television use and its relationship to environmental
beliefs. Although Shanahan et al. (1997) provide a convincing argument for the utility of a cultivation approach for
studying the effects of television use on environmental knowledge and attitudes, empirical support for this
perspective in this context is generally mixed. Indeed, Shanahan and Morgan (1999) detail the assumptions about
television made by cultivation theory and state that any insights provided by this line of research are in part a
function of those assumptions. In short, cultivation is but one approach to the study of television influence.
In response, the present study merges insights from existing cultivation research with media uses and
gratifications to examine the dispositional and motivational underpinnings of particular patterns of television
viewing and the consequences of viewing certain kinds of television content for engaging in pro-environmental
behaviors. We contend that research should consider a host of variables, including environmental attitudes, that are
exogenous to behavioral variables such as television viewing and social actions. Thus, the perspective advanced by
this research considers both the direct effects of various forms of television viewing and their potential mediating
roles in the relationship between environmental attitudes and behaviors.


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