Media and Prosocial Behaviour: The “Effects” Tradition

Does the media support ethical principles and practices? If so, how does that work? Exist any drawbacks to it as well? The "Effects" Tradition is a method for researching this. The study of possible media effects on prosocial conduct, defined as an activity meant to help others, is referred to as the "effects" tradition in media and prosocial behavior. This custom has centered on exploring the possible impacts of media on prosocial attitudes, beliefs, and actions, such as helping, volunteering, and making charitable contributions.

Media and Prosocial Behaviour

The approaches utilized to explore how media affects prosocial behavior in this discipline have often been experimental or observational. For instance, several studies have examined how prosocial media material, such as news articles or PSAs, affects people's prosocial behavior. Others, however, have looked at how media depictions of prosocial activity affect people's attitudes and beliefs about doing good deeds.

Positive Impact

The "effects" tradition in media and prosocial behavior has generally found that media can positively impact prosocial behavior. Some examples of the positive impact of media on prosocial behavior include−

  • Increase awareness

  • Provide a Model

  • Provide Opportunities to Engage

Media may raise people's knowledge of social problems and needs by disseminating information about them. This can inspire people to act more altruistically and raise awareness of social problems and needs. For instance, media coverage of social injustices or natural disasters can raise awareness of the needs of the affected people and communities and inspire others to contribute their time, money, or other resources to aid relief efforts. Media may serve as an example of prosocial conduct and demonstrate how people can support one another in their daily lives.

For instance, media representations of people who donate their time or money to help others might act as role models and motivate others to adopt similar practices. Through interactive media or social media platforms that enable people to connect with and support causes or organizations consistent with their beliefs, media can offer possibilities for people to participate in prosocial behavior.

Negative Effects

According to the "effects" tradition in media and prosocial behavior, media can negatively influence prosocial conduct. Examples of how media can have a detrimental effect on prosocial behavior include −

  • Desentitization to suffering

  • Distort perception of social issues

  • Decrease self efficacy

Desensitizing images of misery and violence in the media can make people less sensitive to the needs of others and less inclined to practice prosocial activity. For instance, prolonged exposure to media depictions of violence and suffering may cause people to lose empathy and become less receptive to the needs of others. The media can alter people's perceptions of social issues, providing biased or skewed perspectives on these topics. This can impact how people see these issues and how likely they are to take prosocial action.

For instance, false or skewed impressions of a social issue may result from media coverage that gives a partial or incomplete picture of the problem, which may lower people's motivation to take action to address the problem. Media can undermine people's feelings of self-efficacy: The media sometimes presents social issues as overwhelming and unresolvable, lowering people's feeling of personal effectiveness and drive to act prosocially. For instance, media coverage of serious social problems like poverty or climate change may cause people to feel that their efforts are inconsequential in the light of such crises, which lowers their incentive to act prosocially.

Research Methods

Researchers have employed various research techniques to examine the possible effects of media on prosocial conduct under the "effects" tradition in media and prosocial behavior. Typical research techniques in this tradition include the following −

  • The immediate impacts of media on prosocial behavior have been investigated in laboratory settings. People could be exposed to media that promotes prosocial conduct or that does not, for instance, and then be required to complete tests that gauge prosocial behavior.

  • The long-term impacts of media on prosocial behavior have been investigated using observational research. For instance, researchers may assess how prosocially inclined people who have access to prosocial internet material are compared to others who do not.

  • The association between media use and prosocial behavior has been studied through survey research. People could be questioned, for instance, about their media consumption patterns and prosocial tendencies. The link between the data may be examined through analysis.

  • The representation of prosocial conduct in media and its possible effects on people have been studied using content analysis. For instance, researchers may examine the material of television programs or motion pictures to study the frequency and kind of prosocial behavior depictions and their possible effects on individuals.

Current Research

Numerous studies are now being conducted on the "effects" of tradition in media and prosocial behavior, looking at how the media may affect prosocial behavior. Social media's effect on prosocial conduct: Studies look at the possible effects of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, on prosocial behavior. For instance, several studies examine whether social media increases charity contributions or volunteering. Video game content's effect on prosocial behavior The possible effects of content on prosocial behavior are being researched. For instance, some research investigates whether engaging in prosocial video game material is linked to increased prosocial behavior.

The effect of media representations of prosocial activity on attitudes and beliefs: Studies look at the possible effects of media representations on people's attitudes and beliefs about doing good deeds. For instance, some research investigates whether exposure to media representations of prosocial conduct relates to heightened empathy and a higher desire to assist others. Prosocial conduct and media literacy: Studies examine how media literacy instruction may affect prosocial behavior. For instance, some research investigates whether media literacy training is linked to more prosocial conduct or a higher propensity to exhibit prosocial behavior.


According to studies in the "effects" tradition, media may influence prosocial behavior in both good and negative ways, depending on the context and content of the media as well as the traits of the individual. The production of media content and the encouragement of prosocial conduct are both significantly impacted by this study. The possible effects of media on prosocial behavior and the moderating variables that may influence these effects might be further explored in the future study in the "effects" tradition.

It might also concentrate on the possible effects of new media on prosocial conduct, such as social media, and the contribution of media literacy to prosocial behavior.

Updated on: 28-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started