Is it Seeing or Believing? Exposure, Perceived Realism, and Emerging Adults' Perceptions of Their Own and Others' Attitudes About Relationships

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13 Scopus citations

Abstract

The differential impact hypothesis predicts that media exposure is more likely to influence social-level than personal-level judgments unless individuals identify with media content. An important factor in determining identification is perceived realism. Research in other areas has found, however, that individuals engage in motivated differential perceptions (MDPs) of self and others and that the extent and nature of these MDPs are determined by both motivational and cognitive factors. This study found that emerging adults (N = 282) in both within-subjects and between-subjects conditions engaged in MDPs-rating peers as more likely to endorse recreational attitudes and less likely to endorse relational attitudes than themselves. Exposure was significantly related to social-level perceptions of peers, but not to personal attitudes. Perceived realism reduced MDPs and was significantly related to personal-level attitudes, but not to social-level perceptions. There were important gender differences in the nature of these relationships. For females, increased exposure was related to higher perceptions of peers' agreement with recreational attitudes, but for males exposure was associated with higher perceptions of other's agreement with relational attitudes. A range of entertainment media formats (television, magazines, radio, and Internet sites) were examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-386
Number of pages32
JournalMedia Psychology
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology

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