How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through Media Influence

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It's a common belief that the stories we encounter through mass media--whether in video games, action movies, or political comedy skits on Saturday Night Live--are just entertaining fantasies that have no tangible impact on our everyday lives, attitudes, and choices. Not so, says Karen Dill in this lively and provocative book. As much as we may want to deny it, the images, sounds, and narratives that bombard us daily have ample power to alter our realities.
Dill, the author of the single-most-cited study on the effects of video-game violence, draws on extensive research in social psychology to show not only the myriad ways--for good and ill--that media influence us, but also why we resist believing they do. Vibrantly written and packed with eye-opening examples from everyday life, her wide-ranging analysis encompasses everything from gender and racial stereotyping to social identity, domestic violence, and presidential politics. She discusses the ways that super-thin models and actresses have altered women's self-images, dissects the manipulative strategies of advertising aimed at children and medical consumers, and explains how the "fake news" of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report may offer more authentic and incisive coverage than the cable channels and network newscasts. She also assesses the growing importance of "new media" like text-messaging, blogs, and Facebook in how we communicate and process information.
In a media-saturated society, Dill argues, understanding precisely how these powerful forces affect us and learning how to deal with them are vital to the very way we function as citizens. How Fantasy Becomes Reality shows what we can do to move from the passenger's seat to the driver's seat as media consumers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Professor Karen Dill has done a remarkable job in presenting the scientific facts about the huge (often harmful, sometimes helpful) impact that TV, films, video games, and music have on us all, and she has done so in a way that is engaging and easy to understand. Two additional aspects of this book are of particular importance: her science-based explanations of why most people believe that they are not influenced; and her recommendations for how people can take control of the media in their lives rather than continuing to be controlled by the media industries. In my view, this is a 'must read' for anyone who is concerned about the healthy development of children and the future of modern society."--Craig A. Anderson, Distinguished Professor of Psychology; Director, Center for the Study of Violence; Iowa State University

"[Dill] takes complex psychological constructs and explains them in an entertaining, conversational style. For parents and older children, she offers an engaging and accessible discussion of the subtle ways that the pervasive presence of media affects us all...[Dill] provides a comprehensive, yet comprehensible walk through the world of media effects research... Dr. Dill's message focuses not only on the negative side of media, but also on how to create a positive and balanced media diet, especially for children. Media literacy is one part of the solution, and Dr. Dill's concluding message is that we all need to take more control of our media diet."--Jeanne Brockmyer, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, University of Toledo

"Media, in all their evolving forms, have become the default activities for the 21st century. Dr. Karen Dill's excellent book explains the tremendous impact media have and what we can do. She translates solid science into a highly understandable, readable and enjoyable book."--David Walsh, Ph.D. President, National Institute on Media and the Family

"Finally, an engaging and interesting book college students enjoy reading about the pervasive effects of the media." --Brad J. Bushman, Ph.D. Professor of Communication Studies and Psychology, University of Michigan

"...a triumph, an eminently accessible yet thoroughly substantive volume on a topic of great relevance to all."--Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195372083
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/3/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 919,100
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen E. Dill is a social psychologist who has given expert testimony before the United States Congress, lectured internationally as a media psychology expert, and has been interviewed by news outlets worldwide, including the BBC, Time Magazine, USA Today, and Japan's national network, NHK. She is Director of the Media Psychology Doctoral Program and Faculty, Media Psychology, School of Psychology, Fielding Graduate University.

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Table of Contents

Sect. 1 Media Psychology 3

Ch. 1 Fantasy and Reality: A Primer on Media and Social Construction 5

Ch. 2 Challenges and Opportunities of Growing Up in a Media-Saturated World 31

Sect. 2 Issues and Controversies in the Social Psychology of Mass Media 59

Ch. 3 Media Violence: Scholarship Versus Salesmanship 61

Ch. 4 Seeing Through and Seeing Beyond Media Visions of Race and Gender 88

Ch. 5 Issues in Media and Social Learning: Rap Music, Beauty and Domestic Violence 118

Sect. 3 The Social Psychology of Media Influence 141

Ch. 6 Advertising, Consumerism, and Health 143

Ch. 7 Get with the Programming: Media Messages About Who You Are 167

Ch. 8 The Social Psychology of Political Coverage 188

Sect. 4 Redefining Freedom in a Media-Rich Landscape 221

Ch. 9 From the Passenger's Seat to the Driver's Seat 223

Notes 241

Bibliography 256

Index 298

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable reading coupled with findings from scientific media research - Outstanding!

    Don't believe you're personally influenced by media? Think again!

    In her groundbreaking new work, Karen Dill will take you through the scientific research to show you how everyone is influenced by the media we consume. In early pages, Dill introduces what she calls "Media Manipulation Denial Syndrome." She coins this phrase based on three facts: "Fact 1: We spend most of our waking hours watching media. Fact 2: Research shows clearly that media are powerful and affect us in many ways. Fact 3: Many of us passionately disbelieve Fact 2."

    Dill asserts that while we exercise a certain amount of free will in our media consumption, we are also influenced by media giants whose job is to lure us into their programming on an emotional level. She offers numerous examples of how these products can have both positive and negative consequences.

    Dill is a highly-respected social psychologist who has been garnering attention since she wrote the most highly-cited dissertation on video game violence in history. In this current work, she leads readers through the basics of media and social construction, what it means to live and grow up in a media-saturated world, how violent media produce lasting effects, issues of race and gender portrayal, advertising and consumerism, media in politics, and how to take control of our personal media consumption.

    While this text presents a great deal of scientific research that will teach you about basic psychology, it is also a relaxing read for anyone interested in media influence from video games to television. Dill's conversational style will allow you to see yourself in her examples and will soon have you scratching your head about why you make certain choices.

    Knowledge is power! Read this book, and you just may find yourself making very different decisions about personal media consumption and how you allow it to direct your life. Don't miss it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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