The Implications of Survey Method for Measuring Cultivation Effects


Human Communication Research

January 2007, vol. 33, n°1, pp.64-80

Departments: Marketing, GREGHEC (CNRS)

The magnitude of the cultivation effect for perceptual estimates of social reality hasbeen shown to be affected by a number of contextual factors such as source primingand motivation to process information during judgment construction, and these contextualfactors have been linked to the use of heuristic processing strategies whenconstructing judgments of frequency and probability (L. J. Shrum, in press). An experimentthat manipulated data collection method explored the implications of these findings.A random sample of general population respondents were randomly assigned toeither telephone or mail survey conditions. Because telephone surveys generally result ingreater heuristic processing than mail surveys, telephone surveys were expected to producelarger cultivation effects than mail surveys. Results showed that not only were themagnitude of the estimates of affluence, crime, vice, marital discord, and occupationsgenerally greater in the telephone than in the mail survey but the correlation of theestimates with amount of viewing was also greater in the telephone than in the mailsurvey. The implications for measuring the cultivation effect are discussed.