Tuning in to Young Viewers: Social Science Perspectives on Television


Edited by: Tannis M. MacBeth

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    About the Editor

    Tannis M. MacBeth, Ph.D., formerly Tannis MacBeth Williams, is a developmental psychologist in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. The common thread underlying her research has been her focus on social issues. Her research on the content and effects of television began with her discovery in 1973 of a town without television. Currently, she is analyzing portrayals of gender, racial-ethnic groups, aggression, emotion, and so forth in informative and noninformative children's TV programs. In another current research project, she is studying the role of stereotypes in beliefs and attitudes regarding mood and other fluctuations over the menstrual, lunar, and day-of-week cycles. She also is studying parent-child attachment relationships and the adult attachment relationships of twins. She has written many journal articles and numerous chapters and is author of The Impact of Television: A Natural Experiment in Three Communities (1986).

    About the Authors

    Joanne Cantor, Ph.D., is Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, where she has worked since receiving her Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1974. She has published more than 60 scholarly articles and chapters on the impact of the mass media on children, adolescents, and adults. Her main interests are focused on television and children, particularly children's emotional reactions to television. She has received funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the H. F. Guggenheim Foundation. She is a member of the research team for the National Television Violence Study, funded by the National Cable Television Association and coordinated by the Los Angeles-based nonprofit group Mediascope. She is also a consultant and research adviser to Wisconsin Public Television for their award-winning children's series Get Real! and she is contributing to a Guggenheim-funded book on the attractions of violence.

    Eric F. Dubow, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Psychology at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. His research interests include the development of aggression in children, the identification of risk and protective factors in children's adjustment, the development and evaluation of school-based primary prevention programs to promote resilience in children, and child clinical psychology. His recent publications include journal articles and book chapters.

    Sherryl Browne Graves, Ph.D., is Associate Professor and Chairperson in the Department of Educational Foundations and Counseling Programs in the Division of Programs in Education at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University in clinical psychology and public practice. Before coming to Hunter College, she taught at New York University and the University of Rafael Urdaneta in Maracaibo, Venezuela. Her research interests include the impact of media and technology on children, the nature of racial and ethnic attitude development in children and youths, and the role of women from underrepresented groups in higher education. She is actively involved in the area of multicultural education. In addition to writing on the topic, she has conducted workshops addressing issues of diversity in a variety of educational settings. She has served as a consultant to a variety of television broadcast and production groups, including the Children's Television Workshop, Lancit Media, WGBH, ITVS (Independent Television Service), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She has served as a research consultant or evaluator for a variety of projects, including the computer equity expert project of the Women's Action Alliance and the American Social History Project of the Hunter College Center for Media and Learning. Currently, she is coproject director for the DeWitt Wallace Readers' Digest, Pathways to Teaching minority teacher recruitment and training grant.

    Aletha C. Huston, Ph.D., is University Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Codirector of the Center for Research on the Influences of Television on Children at the University of Kansas. She is Past President of the Developmental Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association and the recipient of the Irvin Youngberg Award for Outstanding Achievement in Applied Sciences. She is author of Big World, Small Screen: The Role of Television in American Society and winner of the Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology and the Media from the Division of Media Psychology of the American Psychological Association. She has conducted research on television and children since 1970 when she carried out a ground-breaking field experiment investigating the effects of prosocial television and violent programs for the Surgeon General's Scientific Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior. In collaboration with John Wright, she has published numerous articles and chapters on children's reactions to the forms and content of television with particular emphasis on learning about how television can enhance children's development.

    Robert W. Kubey, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Communication in the School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey; and Research Director of the Media Education Laboratory in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts at Rutgers, Newark, New Jersey. Trained as a developmental psychologist at the University of Chicago, he has been an Annenberg Scholar in Media Literacy at the University of Pennsylvania, a National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral research fellow in the Program in Social Ecology at the University of California at Irvine, a research fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, and a fellow of Rutgers' Center for the Critical Analysis of Contemporary Culture. He has also been Visiting Professor at Stanford University and has served as a faculty member of the Institute on Media Education at Harvard University. He is coauthor, with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, of Television and the Quality of life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience (1990); is currently completing Creating Television: Then and Now, a book about the creative decision-making process in Hollywood; and is the editor of Media Literacy in the Information Age: Current Perspectives, Information and Behavior, Vol. 6 (1996).

    Laurie S. Miller, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is also Director of the Disruptive Behavior Disorder Clinic in Pediatric Psychiatry at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. Her research interests include the development, prevention, and treatment of childhood conduct problems and antisocial behavior. She has developed a multisystemic early intervention program for inner-city preschoolers who are at high risk for behavior problems. She is currently conducting a study to test the efficacy of this program. She is also involved in a number of longitudinal studies that examine the role of individual factors (e.g., intelligence, social-cognition), family factors (e.g., parenting practices, parental psychopathology), and community factors (e.g., witnessing community violence) in the development of disruptive behavior in children and adolescents. Her recent publications include several journal articles.

    John C. Wright, Ph.D., completed his Ph.D. in psychology at Stanford in 1960. From 1960 to 1968 he served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota; from 1968 to the present he has been Professor in the Department of Human Development at the University of Kansas, where together with his spouse, Aletha C. Huston, he directs the Center for Research on the Influences of Television on Children (CRITC). His research has focused on the cognitive development of children, especially the development of attention and information-getting skills, curiosity, exploration, and search. He studied cognitive style and is the author of the Kansas Reflection-Impulsivity Scale for Preschoolers (KRISP). With Professor Huston he has received more than $3 million in research grant support from government and foundations. He has published more than 100 articles, chapters, and books on children's understanding of television and its long-term effects on their intellectual development. Currently, he is studying children's processing of form and content, reality-factual ity and imagery of TV, and the contrasting effects of educational and entertainment programming on young children. This research has been presented at numerous conferences, including a special conference at the White House in 1995 and a variety of programs ranging from NBC's Today Show to NPR's Talk of the Nation.

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