"Not Necessarily the News: Does Fictional Television Influence Real-World Policy Preferences?" Mass Communication and Society, 2010.

Diana C. Mutz and Lilach Nir
Research Area: 

Americans spend more than one third of their free time each week watching television—much more than they spend socializing, reading, or participating in religious activities (Robinson & Godbey, 1999, chap. 9). What is less often noted is that the time is overwhelmingly spent watching entertainment programming: sitcoms, game shows, reality shows, and dramas, but not the evening news, political talk shows, or public affairs programming (Nielsen Media Research, 2008). Although the authors do not address the relative amounts of influence from these kinds of content in this study, they ask whether fictional content can have consequences for politically relevant attitudes and beliefs. Does it matter what kinds of fictional content Americans watch regularly on television? Or does such content function purely as a diversionary enjoyment, without any consequences?

Published in Volume 13, Issue 2, pages 196-217