Kilroy Was Here
February 12, 2003
Media Bias is In the Eye of the Beholder
With all of this discussion about media bias (see What Liberal Media? or Slate's The Varieties of Media Bias), one should at least consider that perhaps the perception of bias isn't in the media product, but in those who consume the media.
In fact, social psychologist's have done several studies that concern just that. One of the more famous studies was published in 1985 by Vallone, Ross, and Lepper. In this study, groups of pro-Israeli and pro-Arab students each viewed one of the same six segments about the Beruit Massacre of 1982. After viewing the videotape, the students were asked whether the report was biased, and, if it was, in what way was it biased. The results were quite interesting.
Each side saw the segments biased in favor of the other side. Some of the items stress that the partisans actually saw different news programs. Partisans reported that the program referred to the other party in more favorable ways, and they believed that the programs would lead undecided viewers to become more hostile to their side. But even when holding constant their perceptions about the content, the differences in perception of bias were still significant.
Even more interestingly, the more knowledgeable the partisan, the deeper their perception of bias. As if they had more facts at their command to confirm their suspicion.
So, if you want to stop media bias, to quote Michael Jackson, you better start with the man in the mirror.
Comments: Post a Comment