ISSN 2288-6168 (Online)
Article Information
An Empirical Encounter of Cultural Orientation and Cultivation Theory: Factors of Perception of Materialistic Realities and Dealing with Materialism of University Students in South Korea
Yuri Cha, Yeji Kwon
Asian Journal for Public Opinion Research. 2019. November, 7(4): 226-250
Copyright @ 2019, Center for Asian Public Opinion Research & Collaboration Initiative
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Abstract
The purpose of this study is to explore whether the perceptions of materialistic realities of South Korean university students can be explained by individual experience and media use. We examined: 1) relative consequences of awareness of discrimination experience and amounts of time spent on genre-specific media on perceptions of materialistic realities, 2) whether cultural orientation (allocentrism, self-monitoring, and masculinity) influences explanatory factors of awareness of discrimination experience, 3) conditions of countervailing responses to materialistic reality. As a result of analyzing the online survey data of 330 university students in Seoul, the amount of time spent on the beauty or fashion genre and awareness of discrimination experience explained the perceptions of materialist reality in Korean society. Although the perceptions that affected the accommodative response did not affect countervailing response, innovativeness had an interaction effect with perceptions of materialist reality in only countervailing response. Finally, the implications of these findings were discussed.
Keywords
cultural orientation; cultivation theory; awareness of discrimination experience; genre-specific media; accommodative-countervailing response
Materialism is a consciousness that judges success based on the quantity and quality of material possessions and considers the possession of material objects as happiness (Richins & Dawson, 1992). South Korea is a country with strong materialism among the OECD countries ( Inglehart et al., 2014 ). According to research by Song, Song, Kim, and Jang (2017), based on an empirical data from the World Values Survey wave 5 (2010-2014), 86% of South Koreans would be considered materialists, while the proportions of materialists in Sweden, USA, and Japan ranges from 48.68% to 57.05%.
The wave of materialism is a problem that cannot be overlooked at the societal or individual mental health level since materialism is related to lookism—which refers to cultural preferences for attractiveness, to preferential treatment given to those who are considered to have physical characteristics consistent with an ideal type, and to harm those who do not match the ideal type (McDermott, 2017). Materialism also leads to sexism ( Friedricks, 2014 ) which leads to unequal opportunities (Tietje & Cresap, 2005). In South Korea, job applicants have been discriminated against by recruiters in corporations who apply certain appearance standards ( News1, 2017 ). Materialism causes employment inequality, which deprives individuals of employment opportunities ( Kim, 1994 ). In this context, university students who are about to seek jobs frequently perceive problems of opportunity deprivation (Lee, 2017).
Mass media, which portrays materialism positively, is one of the main drivers of materialism in society ( Harmon, 2001 ). For instance, it is easy to promote materialist values through an entertainment program where spectacularly decorated entertainers appear (Yang, 2006). In this context, previous researchers have used cultivation theory to examine how reality perception changes according to the use-time of a single medium. Cultivation theory ( Gerbner, 1969 ; Gerbner et al., 1986 ) is useful as a representative theory that explains the kinds of ideological effects of media on the group consciousness of media users (Saito, 2007). It assumes that those who heavily use media are more likely to see the real world in a way that reflects media portrayals of the world. While cultivation theory has been the basis for verifying attitudes and perceptions of violence or crime, it has also been widely applied to a variety of topics such as gender roles ( Breuer et al., 2015 ; Saito, 2007), materialist values ( Ho, Shin, & Lwin, 2017 ), and consumption ( Eisend & Möller, 2007 ; Kwak, Zinkhan, & Dominick, 2002 ).
Cultivation, in the original theory, occurs in two ways—mainstreaming and resonance. Mainstreaming is a process that refers to theoretical explanations and empirical validation of a common view of television viewing ( Bryant & Oliver, 2009 ). Mainstreaming takes place when heavy television viewers across different backgrounds share similar perception or attitudes on an issue, whereas light viewers’ attitudes tend to diverge depending on their demographic attributes or social backgrounds (Shanahan & Morgan,1999). Resonance has been known to take place when real-world events support a distorted image depicted on TV, amplifying the cultivation effect. Furthermore, recently it has been found that the structure of each genre is different (Morgan, Shanahan, & Signorielli, 2014; Na & Kim, 2012; Woo & Dominick, 2001), so there is a possibility that genre as well as the spent time on its contents probably affects the cultivation effect.
Additionally, cultivation effects are not free from the psychological tendencies of individual users ( Ho et al., 2017 ). Users are active and can selectively focus on information according to its relevance at a certain time (Zillmann & Bryant, 1994). Despite users’ activity, Gerbner and his colleagues have never explicitly stated the user's level of activity-passivity (Morgan, Shanahan, & Signorielli, 2015; Shanahan & Morgan, 1999); they are concerned about the way the users process information in messages (Potter, 2014).
To understand the cultivation effect with regards to materialist perception, taking into account the background of South Korean society, a new approach to cultivation theory is required. Thus, we look at the mainstreaming effects occurring amongst university students, focusing on genre-specific media usage time. We consider that it makes sense to focus on the media content use-time by genre rather than the cultivation effect of TV itself, especially for young people today who don't watch much TV. Internet platforms such as YouTube offer TV content that is categorized into a variety of genres. We also examine the resonance effect, which is the main way of inducing cultivation for users, but note that resonance may vary due to not only external factors but also internal psychological factors. Finally, we explore the effects of individuals' orientations and cognition on their response of coping with materialism.
Literature Review
- Reality Perceptions of Materialism in Cultivation Theory
Mainstreaming effect of media use-time according to genre. Media exposure is recognized as a major factor in promoting materialism in viewers ( Behal & Soni, 2018 ; Opree, 2019; Voorveld, Fakkert, & van Reijmersdal, 2017). Television programs often depict a higher proportion of characters who have professional jobs or who can afford to consume more than the average person than exist in reality (Yang & Kang, 2005). In an analysis of drama programs of three broadcasters, aired for three years in the early 2000s, 20% of the characters were professionals, and the percentage of chaebol, that is, Korea’s wealthy elite who control the major conglomerates, and large-enterprise managers was 10% (Yang & Kang, 2005). This situation is not unique to South Korea. In the United States, too, those who appear in the media are often high-income or professional practitioners (Lichter, Lichter, & Rothman, 1994). The entertainment programs enjoyed by the younger generation include celebrity-decorated entertainers, which imply goods consumption and appearance management (Yang, 2006). The more the television drama is watched, the more likely the viewer is to accept the standard of appearance required by society, such as trying to follow the appearance of the characters (Roh & Kim,2011).
Likewise, the universal mainstream values created by the mass media can be considered to exist ( Cuddy et al., 2015 ; Leavitt, Covarrubias, Perez, & Fryberg, 2015). First, the cultivation effect through entertainment programs has been revealed (Yang, 2006). Traditional information programs are known not to cultivate materialism, but most of the viewers have had experience purchasing products that appeared in the program after watching a beauty program (Lee & Kim, 2015). The beauty and fashion information programs allow viewers to perceive the information in the program as a trend, and viewers are willing to follow fashion (Yoo & Song, 2008). Viewers may not be able to recognize indirect advertising (Lee, 2014), many of those who watch these contents feel dissatisfied with their appearance ( Eisend & Möller, 2007 ; Jang & Kim, 2006 ) or strengthen the values of materialism including lookism (Shim, 2007). By recognizing materialism as an important value in society, people can sensitively appreciate the feelings of deprivation and discrimination about materialism related to lookism and sexism when they fail to meet materialistic standards.
This kind of cultivation effect study is limited not only to time spent watching TV but it is also necessary to access contents by genre. Genre has an inherent narrative structure and influence on content (Morgan et al., 2014; Woo & Dominick, 2003), so the genre of a particular program may have a differential impact on viewers ( Grabe & Drew, 2007 ). The genre approach reflects today’s media environment, where a large number of users actively choose with purpose rather than habitually consuming content (Hwang, 2015).
The research has continued to accumulate in recent years supporting the idea that the media can affect not only the materialism of children, but also of adult users (Lewallen, Miller, & Behm-Morawitz, 2016; Rai, Chauhan, & Cheng, 2018). The generational materialistic value differences in Korean materialism are similar to those in other countries ( Korean Women’s Development Institute, 2017 ). The younger they are, the smaller the proportion of people with materialistic values (In the teens: 80%, in the 20s: 89.1%, in the 30s: 90%, in the 40s, 91.6%, and in the 50s: 94.2%). However, recent studies of older youth, such as university students are difficult to find, unlike studies of media exposure effects on children in Asia (Vandana & Lenka, 2014, Rashid & Rashid, 2019).
Therefore, this study goes a step beyond the viewpoint of classical cultivation theory and explores cultivation effect by genre. In order to verify the mainstreaming effect of media on the perceptions of materialist reality in South Korea, we will examine how South Korean university students watch programs of a certain genre, rather than them simply “watching TV.” Resonance effect with discrimination experience. The experience of the merging of the media world with the real world amplifies the media’s cultivation effect and makes the media’s worldview, values, and beliefs more intense, as if they are the real world ( Bryant & Oliver, 2009 ). We assume that resonance regarding materialism will occur when individuals are actually aware of materialist discrimination as experienced in reality. The experiences of discrimination can be divided into objective and subjective. However, the study of epistemological approaches from the perspective of cultivation theory is relatively insufficient (Son & Lee, 2012) and leads to the following research question:
RQ 1: How does the amount of time spent on genre-specific media and awareness of discrimination experience affect the perceptions of materialist reality in South Korean university students?
- Cultural Orientation as an Influence Factor on Awareness of Discrimination Experience
Allocentrism, self-monitoring, and masculinity as cultural orientation related to materialism . Through a literature review, we have derived three explanatory factors as a cultural orientation that seems to act as a cognitive primer. First, allocentrism refers to the concept of collectivism of the psychological unit at the individual level ( Han, 1991 ). Individualism and collectivism are representative cultural orientations (Weber & Morris, 2010). People in an individualist culture tend to have an I-identity; in contrast, people in a collectivist culture tend towards a we-identity ( Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010 ). In collectivist culture, the group is given priority, and the harmony among group members is emphasized. On the contrary, individualist culture emphasizes autonomy and self-assertiveness, attaching importance to individual uniqueness ( Cho, 1997 ). One of the reasons for the active trend of materialist consumption among young South Koreans is collectivist culture (Park, Rabolt, & Jeon, 2008). Therefore, it is possible to infer that the stronger the allocentrism among South Korean university students, the more likely that they justify materialism under social pressure in relationships or actively raise awareness of discrimination as it conforms to mainstream social norms.
Self-monitoring—which means attention to the relevance of social behavior, attention to social comparison information, the ability to modify self-expression, the use of this ability in specific situations, the diversity of social behaviors, and the transcendental variability of social behavior (Snyder & Monson, 1975)—is one of the cultural orientations discussed when explaining the concept of individualism-collectivism. It has a point of contact with collectivism in the aspect of meaning because self-monitoring refers to the tendency to ensure self-conformity to the opinions and social norms of others in the group ( Becherer & Richard, 1978 ). Individualists tend to be less self-monitoring of self-actions, as opposed to collectivists who are adaptive to contextual and situational cues ( Church et al., 2006 ). As people become more self-monitored, they tend to adjust their behavior to social norms (Lippa, 1976) and purchase luxury brands to deliver the images they want ( Bian & Forsythe, 2012 ; Park et al., 2008).
The masculinity dimension accounts for the different points of view between men and women, which also has the potential to influence the awareness of materialist discrimination. Materialist beliefs are related to a double standard for men and women. Some of the terms that measure masculinity among individual cultural orientations are: the idea that the man is physically stronger, more progressive, and more logical than the woman, while ideas regarding the woman include how much they agree that males should regard women as being protected; and the higher the score, the more masculine the culture (Sharma, 2010). The problem of materialism can be replaced by the problem of sexism as it is a problem that occurs mainly for women ( Friedricks, 2014 ; Teng et al., 2016). In a masculine culture, there is the double standard that men are regarded as subjects and women as objects; while in a feminine culture, the same criteria apply regardless of gender ( Hofstede et al., 2010 ). Although South Korea is a feminine culture that emphasizes harmony ( Hofstede et al., 2010 ), the roles of men and women have traditionally been different; and the separation of roles have continued to this day. Thus, it is meaningful to understand the influence of masculinity of an individual regarding the perceptions of discrimination experience.
Furthermore, we discuss the issue of masculinity in this subject from a broader perspective, based on the theory of dualistic sexism. According to the ambivalent sexism theory, sexism is a mixture of hostile and benevolent sexism ( Glick & Fiske, 1996 ). Hostile gender discrimination means that individuals take a negative attitude towards women in the sense that they threaten the vested rights by invading the territories of men.
On the other hand, benevolent sexism is a seemingly favorable attitude towards women that tries to feel closer to them and protect those women who play traditional roles and sees them as a complement to the shortcomings of men. In a survey of dualist sexism in South Korea, it was found that the stronger the benevolent sexism, the more positive the attitudes toward feminists, housewives, and women social workers. However, there was also a negative attitude toward unmarried mothers and divorced women who deviate from their traditional roles from the point of view of sexism ( Ahn, Kim, & Ahn, 2005 ).
If men have higher sexism, a minority of women may accept the consciousness of a large group of men ( Jost & Banaji, 1994 ). In a comparative cultural study across 19 countries ( Glick et al., 2000 ), it was found that the higher the sexism level among men, the more women accepted the male-centered thinking and system and tried to protect themselves by adopting benevolent sexism. In this regard, there is a possibility that the direct experiences of sexism and indirect experiences, meaning situations where one see others being discriminated against, according to the degree of hostile or benevolent sexism may affect the perceptions of discrimination, including lookism. However, there have been no studies on the relationship between perceptions of materialism and cultural orientation. Thus, we set up the following research question:
RQ2: How does cultural orientation affect the awareness of discrimination experiences among South Korean university students?
- The Effect of User Orientation and Perceptions of Materialist Reality in Dealing with Materialism
The level of perceptions of materialist reality generated by the cultivation effect can affect whether the problem should be solved and how to solve it, since the first step in problem-solving is to recognize the problem itself ( Lazarus & Folkman, 1984 ; Holroyd & Lazarus, 1982 ). Stress occurs in the process of recognizing an individual situation or reality as a problem and coping with it ( Holroyd & Lazarus, 1982 ). Problem recognition is a stress appraisal, a process of recognizing problems and evaluating the environmental and personal resources that can be used to eliminate the losses or harm that are occurring. Problem solving is a sort of stress coping, which refers to efforts to address the environment, internal needs, and the conflicts surrounding the problem ( Holroyd & Lazarus, 1982 ).
In cases of stress, the individual first makes a cognitive determination whether stress is present or not, and then makes a secondary cognitive assessment of the problems that one can control ( Lazarus & Folkman, 1984 ). The problem-solving method appears in various ways—problem-focused coping to solve problems by active effort and intervention, emotion-focused coping with the aim of avoiding negative emotions caused by stress rather than solving problems ( Lazarus & Folkman, 1984 ), and attentive-confrontative coping (Suls & Fletcher, 1985).
We raise the possibility that innovativeness may have some influence on the process of perceptions of materialist reality and problem solving. Innovativeness refers to "the degree to which an individual is relatively earlier in adopting an innovation than other members of his social system" (Rogers & Shoemaker, 1971, p. 27). It is primarily a concept used in the domain of consumption, but its starting point lies in a theory that explains innovative behavior that is formed during social processes, as part of interpersonal relationships (Rogers & Shoemaker, 1971). The concept is also applicable to communication as a whole because it measures the willingness of individuals to change ( Hurt, Joseph, & Cook, 1977 ). Innovativeness affects not only the classification of thinking and emotion but also problem-recognition and -solving process ( Bariya, Chhodvadia, Patel, Parmar, & Vyas, 2017 ; Rogers & Shoemaker, 1971). We regard innovativeness as an orientation to adopt attempts to renew old customs and conventions of society in keeping with global dimensions of innovativeness, which is related to personal characteristics and refers to the willingness to try new things ( Goldsmith & Foxall, 2003 ). The more people are open to change, the more likely they are to recognize a problem and remedy it. If people with higher innovativeness consider lookism and sexism as negative phenomena, we can expect that they will pursue change, because innovativeness leads to new ideas and to the practice and adoption of new ways ( Fagerberg, 2006 ; Porter, 1990). Therefore, we will examine individual innovativeness by taking into consideration overall innovativeness as a personal characteristic related to materialism, and consumer innovativeness about purchasing a new object. The research question raised is as follows:
RQ3: What influence does innovativeness have on the relationship between the perceptions of materialist reality and the response of South Korean university students?
Methods
The population of this study is composed of residents of Seoul who were attending universities in Korea, aged 20-29. Market Link, a professional online research company was in charge of quota sampling and conducting an online survey. E-mails were sent to 3,000 people belonging to the survey-only panel, which has proven its reliability and has is by about 100 companies in Korea and abroad, from March 16-20, 2017. Nine-hundred-seventy-nine responses were collected, for a response rate of 32.6%. Three-hundred-thirty respondents met the age and gender quotas. The mean age of the targeted respondents ( n = 330) was 24.7 years ( SD = 2.57). There was an equal sex ratio of 1:1.
- Variable
Coping with materialism . The accommodative response is defined as conforming to materialism. To measure the response, a total of five items ("I spend a lot of time on my appearance," "I care more about my appearance than other people I know," etc.) were constructed by partially borrowing from the eight items of appearance management behaviors ( Johnson, Francis, & Burns, 2007 ) or risky appearance management behaviors (Lee & Johnson, 2009). The Cronbach’s value for the five items was .86. The five items were arithmetically averaged and used for analysis (M = 2.45, SD = .90).
The measure of countervailing response consisted of four items ("I have expressed my opinion against lookism to the people around me,” etc.) in the online and offline political conversation items ( Gibson & Cantijoch, 2013 ). The Cronbach’s alpha value was .79 ( M = 2.77, SD = .81).
Perceptions of Materialist Reality in South Korean Society . This refers to the level of personal perception regarding materialism in South Korea these days. Three items ("In order to succeed in society these days, it is important to embellish your face or body," "External charm is very important in order to get along well in our society," etc.) were constructed by borrowing items related to perceptions of actual conditions along a scale of socio-cultural attitudes toward appearance ( Heinberg et al., 1995 ). The Cronbach’s alpha value was .61 (M = 3.54, SD = .67).
Amounts of time spent (ATS) in genre-specific media . This is the average time spent per week using ten genres of media, corresponding to the main categories: a) survival competition, b) beauty or fashion information, c) romantic drama, d) social critical drama, e) general music show, f) general comedy show, g) investigative reporting, h) other (non-beauty/fashion) culture/life information/documentary, i) news, and j) other (non-survival competition) reality entertainment. Seven days of viewing or equivalent runtime viewing was coded as 4, and five to six days or equivalent run time viewing was coded as 3. Three to four days or equivalent runtime viewing was coded as 2. One to two days or equivalent runtime viewing was coded as 1, while less than that was coded as zero.
Awareness of discrimination experience . This refers to the degree to which the respondent or those around them are discriminated by the materialist culture of South Korea. We have modified the appearance discrimination questions ( Carr & Friedman, 2005 ) and scale of lookism ( Ghodrati, Joorabchi, & Muati, 2015 ) to fit the purpose of this study (I have been discriminated “against in appearance", “because of the money or material things," etc.). The four-item Cronbach’s alpha value was .81(M = 2.83, SD = 1.08).
Cultural orientation . Masculinity–sexism. This is the degree of personal emphasis on strength and achievement. The masculine state tends to apply a different sexual standard, the moral double standard, to women and men, compared to the feminine state ( Hofstede et al., 2010 ). The male sex scales of Sharma (2010) were also similar to the sexism scales, and the Korean dual-sex sexism scales ( Ahn et al., 2005 ) were used. Of the six two-dimensional factors (dominant paternalism, competitive gender differentiation, hostile heterosexuality, protective paternalism, complementary gender differentiation, intimate heterosexuality), we used five, excluding only the intimate heterosexual factor. The Cronbach’s alpha value for a total of 16 items based on factor loading was .91.
Allocentrism . This refers to the extent to which individuals act collectively. We borrowed the Korean scale recorded by Han and Oh (1993) , but it was developed for children. Therefore, we revised it so that it could be used for university students. The Cronbach’s alpha value for the three items (“There are many times when I can’t say what I want to do at school because I may make someone feel bad,” “If someone in the school asks me to do something, I do it even if I do not like it,” etc.) was .65 ( M = 3.14, SD = .70).
Self-monitoring . This refers to one’s sense of what is the proper self-presentation in a given situation (Snyder, 1979). The four items related to self-monitoring used in a survey of US and Chinese university students ( Bian & Forsythe, 2012 ) were used ("It is easy for me to control my behavior when I know what I need to do in a situation," "I have the ability to control how I present myself according to the impression I want to give to people," etc.). The Cronbach’s alpha value was .76( M = 3.37, S = .62).
- Moderated Variable: Innovativeness
This refers to the tendency to change the old customs of society. Two questions asking for a typical response to discrimination experience (McLaughlin et al., 2010) and three questions about shopping innovativeness ( Bush & Gilbert, 2002 ) that are closely related to materialism ("When I am treated unfairly, I try to do something without considering it as an inevitable reality," “When I am treated unfairly, I tell this to others,” etc.). The Cronbach’s alpha value was .73. The five items were arithmetically averaged and used for analysis.
Results
Prior to finding the answer to RQ1, we conducted regression analysis using Amos 24. The average monthly household income, sex, and age were included as control variables. The influence of these variables on perceptions of materialist realities was not significant. The perceptions of materialist realities explained the accommodative response at a meaningful level ( β = .42, SE = .068, CR = 8.456>1.965, p<.001), but not the countervailing response. Thus, a more exploratory approach for ANOVA was used for RQ 3; categorical variables were created using visual binning from IBM SPSS Statistics 23.
- Media and User Effects on Perceptions of Materialist Realities in South Korean Society
To select the representative variables of the amounts of time spent (ATS) in genre-specific media related to the media effect for RQ 1, we first performed a correlation analysis between the perceptions of materialist realities and ATS in each genre. As a result, the perceptions of materialist realities had a meaningful correlation with the ATS in seven genres: a) survival competition, b) beauty or fashion information, c) romantic drama, d) social critical drama, e) general music show, f) general comedy show, g) investigative reporting. No significant relationship was found for ATS in the other three genres of media: a) other culture or living information/documentary, b) news, and c) other realistic entertainment.
When the variables of ATS showing significant correlation values as above were used as independent variables in the regression analysis of perceptions of South Korean materialist realities, only the variable of ATS in beauty or fashion genre media showed a meaningful value ( β = .29, modified R2 = .09.). The beta value increased slightly to .31 (modified R2 = .09) when only the ATS in beauty or fashion genre media was entered as a single independent variable.
Overall, we analyzed ATS in the genre of media with the highest beta value as a representative independent variable to investigate media effects. In order to investigate the effect of the user, we set the awareness of discrimination experience as another independent variable. As a result, the beta value of the ATS in the beauty or fashion genre media was similar to that of the experience of discrimination, but that of ATS in the beauty or fashion genre media was slightly larger.
The path of ATS in the cosmetics/fashion genre and awareness of discrimination experience were also significant. The effect of ATS in the cosmetics/fashion genre media ( β = .26, SE = .032, CR = 4.866) was higher than that of awareness of discrimination experience ( β = .16, SE = . 042, CR = 3.741, p < .001) ( Figure 1 ).
Path analysis
- Cultural Factors on Awareness of Discrimination Experience
We investigated the effect of Korean cultural orientation on awareness of discrimination experience through multiple regression analysis for RQ 2 ( Table 1 ). As a result of the correlation analysis conducted at the preceding stage, masculinity (hostile heterosexuality, competitive gender differentiation), except for the dominant sexism and dominant male-subordination, allocentrism, and self-monitoring, showed a significant correlation with the awareness of discrimination experience. Contrary to hostile heterosexuality and other factors, competitive constitution showed a negative correlation. Regression analysis showed that allocentrism had the strongest influence, followed by self-monitoring, and competitive gender differentiation. Hostile heterosexuality had no significant effect.
Cultural Factors on Awareness of Discrimination Experience
Cultural Factors on Awareness of Discrimination Experience
- Countervailing Response Against Materialism According to the Level of Perceptions of Materialist Reality and Innovativeness
The result of ANOVA on RQ 3 was statistically significant ( F (4, 321) = 3.23, p = .01) ( Table 2 ). Innovativeness has a significant effect on materialist opposition (F (2, 321) = 15.72, p <.001). However, the main effect of perceptions of materialist realities was not significant ( F (2, 321) = .08, p > .05). Specifically, the group with the lowest average value for the countervailing response was the group with a high perception level of materialist realities, but a low level of innovativeness ( Figure 2 ). On the other hand, if the perception level of materialist realities is low, it can be seen that even if the level of innovativeness is high, the countervailing response cannot be actively carried out. The group with the highest average value has a high level of perceptions of materialist realities and a high level of innovativeness.
Countervailing Response against Materialism according to level of Perceptions of Materialist Reality and Innovativeness
Countervailing Response against Materialism according to level of Perceptions of Materialist Reality and Innovativeness
Countervailing Response Against Materialism According to Level of Perceptions of Materialist Reality and Innovativeness
Discussion
Today individuals’ perceptions can be influenced by the Internet and many other factors than TV. This study is not an attempt to explain the cultivation effect of TV, but rather to show what kind of cultivation effects exist in Korean society now. We started from the viewpoint of cultivation theory that media use-time and individual experience may affect the perceptions of materialist reality among South Korean university students. However, the previous studies of cultivation theory from the traditional point of view have only explained that the cultivation effect is amplified when the world presented on media is similar with real-life experience. We set up three research questions taking into account today’s media users and the media environment: 1) to investigate the relative consequences of ATS in genre-specific media and the awareness of discrimination experience on the perceptions of materialist reality, 2) to determine whether cultural orientation can explain the awareness of discrimination experience, which is a factor explaining the perceptions of materialist reality, 3) to explore the conditions of response to materialist reality in the problem-coping tendency of university students.
The findings are summarized, as follows. First, we found that consumption of certain genres of media is suitable for explaining the mainstreaming aspect of the cultivation effect. Resonance can be amplified due to individual experiences. Specifically, the influence of awareness of discrimination experience and media use-time were similar, but the latter was greater. The awareness has a correlation with the use-time of seven genres (survival entertainment, beauty/fashion information, romantic/melodrama, social criticism/accusative drama, general music shows, general comedy shows, and exploration). The ATS in beauty fashion information genre had the highest correlation value and was used as an independent variable for media usage time. Consequently, the use-time in the beauty/fashion genre and the awareness of discrimination explained the perceptions of materialist reality. Of course, these results are not evidence of the simple, direct, and unidirectional impact of media on media users today. However, the reason, other than personal preference, for why respondents spent a certain amount of time viewing certain genres of media may also be related to awareness of discrimination experience. Therefore, it is necessary to be careful in interpreting the findings regarding media impact.
Moreover, the results of this study, which focused on college students as an early adult group distinct from the children's group, suggests that adults are not free from the influence of the media. Yet, this early adult group cannot be representative of adults of all ages, thus replication studies considering various age groups are necessary.
Secondly, we found through regression analysis that these cultural orientations exert different influences on the awareness of discrimination experiences. The awareness increased as allocentrism and self–monitoring was higher and competitive gender differentiation was lower. This is a reasonable result, as it tends to explain the effect of social pressure and norms in individuals with high allocentrism, who are likely to censor themselves in order to give others a good impression, if they have strong self-monitoring. The paradoxical implication of this result is that the awareness of discrimination experience is not deteriorated by cultural orientation favoring materialism, rather strengthening it. In other words, it suggests that the university students in South Korea today may be able to carry out normalized consent rather than actively agreeing with materialism. Thus, this is a clue that the acceptance of social pressures about materialism cannot be explained as young people not feeling the unfairness of materialism.
Only the competitive gender differentiation showed statistically significant negative values among masculinity factors for the awareness of discrimination experience. Since competitive gender differentiation is about men's superiority in power, it is likely that discrimination is not discrimination but something cultural. Awareness is needed because as men and women move away from each other toward hostile and competitive schemes, the culture may be unable to recognize discrimination even as discrimination becomes more widespread.
Finally, this research shows the need to view the concept of resonance from a flexible and multifaceted approach by first discovering the influence of cultural orientation on the awareness of the experience of discrimination. It suggests that cultural orientation should be considered when designing media education plans for university students.
Materialist reality perception did not show a significant influence on the countervailing response, unlike in the case of the accommodative response. We found that the perception of materialist reality does not explain the countervailing response. However, we found that as we can strongly perceive the real problem of materialism and the individual's innovativeness improves, a countervailing response becomes possible. It shows an interaction effect between innovativeness of university students and the perceptions of materialist reality on countervailing response. Ultimately, the issue of materialism could be overcome by those who perceive the problem and respond with their innovativeness.
Future Research
The results of this study do not merely confirm Gerbner’s (1969) thesis; rather we attempt to validate it in extended form, which may have different meanings. Nevertheless, this study has the following limitations. First, we did not test specifically a kind of priming effect because we first observed the influence of cultural orientation on awareness of discrimination experience at the level of exploratory research. In order to prioritize identifying the cultural orientation variables appropriate for future research, we focused on exploring the explanatory power of various cultural orientations and limited the variable that was influenced by cultural orientation to the perceptions of the experience of discrimination.
We did not address the possibility that awareness of discrimination experience plays a role in controlling the mainstreaming. This is because, although we agree with the assertion that cultivation is a constant, dynamic, ongoing relationship (Morgan et al., 2015), the exploratory study was designed to be a preparatory work for examining the feasibility of more intensive studies ( Babbie, 2007 ). Thus, future studies may be carried out to clarify how cultural orientation affects media use-time and how the awareness of experience moderately affects the perceptions of materialist reality.
Finally, the validity of measurements concerning countervailing response should also be addressed. We measured how respondents expressed certain opinions in online or offline situations, and so on. However, a countervailing response may appear in various ways; for example, from deliberation to positive action, which can lead to social change. We expect that future research will be conducted on the scale of countervailing response against materialism.
Biographical Notes
Yuri Cha (PhD., Sogang University) is a principal researcher in the Institute for the Study of Media and Culture at the Sogang University and a lecturer at universities in South Korea. As a post-doctoral research fellow, she completed a two-year course in the Department of Communication at Seoul University. Her current research focuses on digital media, literacy, culture, and health communication.
She can be reached at School of Media, Arts, and Science, Sogang University, Republic Korea or by e-mail at ilooy@sogang.ac.kr .
Yeji Kwon (Ph.D., Sogang University) is a research fellow at the Korea Broadcast Advertising Corporation, Seoul, South Korea. Her research interests are media psychology, digital media and social engagement, and health communication. She has published several research articles in The Journal of Genetic Psychology (SSCI), Korean Journal of Journalism & Communication Studies (KCI), Journal of Communication Research (KCI), etc. She has taught about interpersonal communication, mass communication, and research method at Sogang University and Yonsei University.
She can be reached at Korea Broadcast Advertising Corporation, 18 th Fl, 124, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea, 04520 or by e-mail at yeji@kobaco.co.kr .
Funding note: This study’s a questionnaire survey was supported by young scholar support of Korean Society for Journalism & Communication Studies.
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