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Cultivation Theory

  • By: Michael Morgan, James Shanahan & Nancy Signorielli
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Television has been Americans' storyteller since the 1950s. Even though it now brings viewers many more channels and comes to viewers on many more screens and “devices,” television continues to tell most of the stories to most of the people, most of the time. In the process, its stories offer many incidental but important “lessons” about health—about nutrition, exercise, alcohol, disease, and doctors. These messages contribute to what people know (or think they know) about health and wellness, and what they “see, say and do” in relation to health.

Television's Impact on Health Messages

Cultivation analysis, developed by George Gerbner in the 1960s, provides a productive method for studying the impacts of television's messages about health (along with many other topics, including violence, gender, race and ethnicity, ...

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