Religiosity, Repression and Cultivation: Different Patterns of TV Viewing Effects on Crime Prevalence Estimates and Personal Victimization Likelihood Assessment

Amir Hetsroni, Hila Lowenstein


This study asks if and to what extent religiosity and repression moderate the effect of TV viewing on crime prevalence estimates and personal victimization likelihood assessments. Taking place in Israel, the study used a content analysis of a representative sample of TV programming (56 hours of prime-time shows) to identify the most common crimes depicted on the small screen, followed by a survey of a representative sample of the adult public in a large urban district (778 respondents). Participants were asked to estimate the prevalence of these crimes and assess their personal victimization likelihood. Nonreligious people increased their estimates of crime prevalence for crimes that are often depicted on TV as they devoted more time to watching TV (ordinary cultivation), whereas the estimates of crime prevalence and personal victimization likelihood assessments of religious respondents became lower in correspondence with the increase in the amount of time they devoted to television viewing (counter-cultivation). Repression had a small negative effect on crime assessment that was more consistent among nonreligious people, where it also decreased the size of the cultivation effect. The effect of demographic factors was less robust. Overall, religiosity comes out as a potent attenuator of TV viewing effects on estimates concerning crime and personal safety.

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