CULTIVATION IN THE NEWER MEDIA ENVIRONMENTElizabeth M. PerseUniversity of DelawareDepartment of CommunicationNewark, Delaware 19716(302) 831-8041Douglas A. FergusonBowling Green State UniversityDepartment of TelecommunicationsBowling Green, Ohio 43403(419) 372-6007Douglas M. McLeodUniversity of DelawareDepartment of CommunicationNewark, Delaware 19716(302) 451-8028Paper presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and MassCommunication Association convention, Montreal. This paper was recognized asa top‑three paper by the Communication Theory and Methodology Division.August 1992CULTIVATION IN THE NEWER MEDIA ENVIRONMENTAbstractResearchers who study television’s cultivation effects believe that heavy television viewing exposes people to consistent messages that lead them to be more fearful and mistrustful of others. The widespread adoption and use of new television technologies, such as cable, VCR, and remote control devices (RCDs), however, have the potential to alter cultivation effects, because new television technologies allow for greater programming diversity and greater viewer control. We conducted two studies to test the impact of cable, VCRs, and RCDs on fear of crime and interpersonal mistrust. Both studies were random‑digit‑dialed telephone surveys of adults in two U.S. cities (Study 1, N = 152; Study 2, N = 615). We found mixed support for our hypotheses. Cable television had a differential impact on cultivation effects. Increased exposure to broadcast‑type channels was linked to greater cultivation. But, increased exposure to more specialized and diverse cable channels was negatively related to cultivation perceptions. VCR ownership also was linked to less cultivation. The discussion suggests that mass communication researchers continue to explore the impact of new television technologies on traditional media effects.CULTIVATION IN THE NEWER MEDIA ENVIRONMENTThe Cultural Indicators group holds that content analyses of television reveal that television’s depiction of the world differs from reality (see Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1986, for a summary). There is more crime on television than in real life; women are underrepresented in television, as are the elderly and racial minorities. Yet, these groups are more likely to be victims of television crime. Building on these analyses, the Cultural Indicators group argues that television ”cultivates” an image of social reality congruent with television’s images in heavy viewers of television. Television has this effect because television content consistently deviates from reality and because television viewers are nonselective and uncritical (Gerbner & Gross, 1976).There is wide support for cultivation. Heavy television viewers are more likely to express alienation and fear of crime (Gerbner & Gross, 1976; Gerbner, Gross, Jackson‑Beeck, Jeffries‑Fox, & Signorielli, 1978; Gerbner, Gross, Signorielli, Morgan, & Jackson‑Beeck, 1979). Cultivation effects have been observed in other areas connected to television content. Heavy viewers are more likely to describe their lives as less satisfying (Morgan, 1984), see the elderly as feeble and ineffectual (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1980), and express more sex‑stereotyped beliefs (Morgan & Rothschild, 1983).Several scholars have criticized the cultivation approach for methodological reasons and have argued that the research neglects the influence of several intervening variables (see Rubin, Perse, & Taylor, 1988, for a summary of those criticisms). Other researchers have questioned the Cultural Indicator’s assumption that television viewing is nonselective (Hawkins & Pingree, 1981; Potter & Chang, 1990; Rubin et al., 1988). In general, incorporating selective exposure to television content increases the connection between television exposure and cultivated perceptions about the real world.This study focused on how television selectivity influences cultivation effects. Specifically, this study examined the impact of television exposure on fear of crime and interpersonal mistrust in viewers who subscribe to cable, own videocassette recorders, and use remote control devices. These newer television technologies allow for greater television selectivity for two reasons. First, they increase the programming options available to viewers. Second, they increase the ease with which viewers can selectively exposure themselves to television content. We expected that greater use of these newer television technologies would decrease cultivation effects.