This research explores the idea that when making estimates of media influence on the self and others, individuals often assume reinforcement of existing attitudes rather than assume that media content necessarily creates or changes attitudes. Consequently, perceptions of favorable attitudes on an issue should result in judgments that media strengthen favorable attitudes, and perceptions of unfavorable attitudes should result in judgments that media strengthen unfavorable attitudes. Two studies were conducted: a survey concerning attitudes toward affirmative action in higher education, and an experiment concerning responses to news coverage and responses to media violence. Support for perceived media reinforcement was obtained for both news content and, to a lesser extent, for media violence. Results are discussed in terms of providing a framework for interpreting third-person perceptions. © 2008 Sage Publications.
- Third-person PerceptionsPerceived Media InfluenceReinforcement