Priorities for action-oriented psychological studies of television and behavior

by George A. Comstock

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There are numerous opportunities for contributions by psychological research to the study of effects of television on behavior. Social and behavioral science can guide regulatory action by (1) evaluation of existing regulations, (2) evaluation of TV industry practices that might be open to regulatory action, and (3) evaluation of alternate regulatory options. Research has begun to explore the degree to which children comprehend and are influenced by TV commercials. Many questions in this area are uninvestigated and others have not been fully addressed. The persistent issue of television violence has led to restraints by the broadcast standards departments. At present the majority of their decisions proceed solely from intuition. Psychological studies could provide the guidance they need. Other areas where behavioral research is needed: TV influence on voter decisionmaking, understanding the function and influence of entertainment in people's lives, and understanding the role of TV in the developing lives of the young.

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