The influence of television in our society

The ability to influence television, both through soap operas, entertainment, advertisements, news …, is widely recognized and has significant and enduring repercussions, both cognitively and civically and politically.

How does television influence us?

According to the article “The Political Legacy of Entertainment TV by Ruben Durant, Paolo Pinotti and Andrea Tesei”, published in the American Economic Review (American Economic Review 2019, 109 (7): 2497-2530) in which the influence of the access and viewing of Mediaset content and how it affected the critical capacity of people in particular in decision-making and the intention to vote towards Berlusconi (being the latter the referent of populisms).

This channel is distinguished by having content of the so-called “teleporqueria” with very little educational content, Focused on more mundane aspects and unsophisticated entertainment than cultural content, and all generally with a tendency towards simplistic content.

Modify our voting intention

What we see in this study, for example, is that the analysis of the differences between when people accessed this channel, and therefore the length of their exposure, is directly proportional to the intention to vote. for Berlusconi. (Populism) in the various elections held.

If a person was exposed to the content of this television when they were a minor, when they reach adulthood, they will be cognitively less sophisticated. and they will have less socio-political engagement than boys and girls who were not exposed to this chain, which may end up leading to a vulnerability to populist rhetoric, which in this case was the one used by Berlusconi .

This is confirmed by the fact that people who saw this “Telebasura” as children had poorer performance in numerical calculation and literacy than people who were not exposed (data measured by psychometric tests). Regarding the area of ​​least civic engagement used, in addition to the ITANES questionnaire, interest in political issues and participation in voluntary associations was taken into account.

Children and the elderly, the most vulnerable groups

There are two groups that are particularly important and where the effects are greatest, Both in people who have been exposed to Mediaset (both under 10 and over 55). These 2 groups are precisely the age groups which consume the most television and therefore those which reflect the most.

One particularly relevant group, due to their disturbing influence, is the group that was over 55 when they first started seeing this channel. In this case, the difference is 10 points compared to the same age group but they have not seen this content. A possible explanation can be given by knowing the evolution of the content broadcast by the channel. In the beginning, the programming tended to be light and simple entertainment content, gradually these people became regular viewers of the channel. Until then, the main risk was the tendency of viewers not to develop cognitively or civically.

In 1991, the channel introduced the television news, but it suffered a bias in favor of Berlusconi with which not only was there vulnerability to populist rhetoric due to less cognitive sophistication and civic involvement, but also them. same were the ones they provided in their news reports.

Regarding the tendency to vote for the populisms of people exposed mainly to Mediaset and who have been “educated” with Mediaset, the study shows that the difference is up to eight percentage points above people who are not “educated”. »With Mediaset.

Mediaset’s influence on the number of people who stopped voting for Berlusconi in 2013, there was a boom in the 5-star movement, More radical populism. It follows therefore that the vast majority of people who until then had voted for Berlusconi, had now come to support the 5-Star Movement. With this fact, we can reflect that what really resulted in the intention to vote was more populist rhetoric, which in both cases is shared, than policies or ideologies, also highlighting that both formations were particularly popular among the less educated and socially engaged population.

Important educational consequences

The results of this study are that minors who have been exposed to this type of television entertainment, as adults they are less cognitively sophisticated and have a lower civic mindsetThis therefore makes them more vulnerable to the populist rhetoric of, in this case that of Berlusconi, and currently that of the 5 Star Movement.

After all of this, it remains to be seen if it can happen to us, if it is something we want to happen, and to what extent we are likely to be negatively influenced by and end our political and civic behavior. own values ​​due to a bad choice in our entertainment.

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