However, this is not to say that the perceived power of the television and its ability to cultivate perceptions are lacking; in fact, there is a general consensus as to the authoritative role of television especially as this is the main channel of information and entertainment that are more or less accessible to a significant number of people. The aspect of authoritarianism can be also seen in the ability of the individual to decide what to do with the messages conveyed on the tube (Shanahan, 1998).
An interesting finding by Shanahan (1998) as to the impact of the cultivation theory and authoritarianism among the youth shows that the younger generations tend to show a greater amount of this trait over media messages. This is to say that in this particular demographic, Shanahan mentioned that the cultivation becomes more apparent as the youth absorbs authoritarian sources from the media, especially among those who are heavy viewers. Hence, for instance, a young heavy viewer may have a greater tendency to adapt authoritarianism based on the media exposure which the youth happens to identify with.
The inspirational force brought by the television cannot be therefore easily ignored, but basically, in addition to the personality trait, what can be also regarded to be affective towards audience perception and response is based on the viewer’s relationship with his or her television. In the “CSI effect”, the conflicting results from the varying cited sources show an acknowledgement of the impact of media messages to people’s behavior yet at the same time, the point of hesitation can be seen whether it can actually impact juror decision and behavior during court proceedings.
In examining the study presented by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, the validity of the document is that it is notable for its empirical approach in the research yet it does not present a direct evidence of “CSI effect” in the court proceedings in the locality. Generally, a stable support that this study can elicit is that the surveyed prosecutors had observed juror behaviors that are reflective of the CSI effect although the jurors themselves did not show any direct relationship with the show or any related shows.
The growing number of demand for forensic evidences in cases that do not necessarily need them have been noted to have grown, therefore, certain cases that have been featured in the media such as State v. Black, State v. James Calloway, and State v. Edward Sierra (Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, 2005) have led to the identification of the “CSI effect”. The question therefore lies whether the impacts identified in Gerbner’s cultivation theory can be associated with the “CSI effect”, and whether the “CSI effect” can actually create an influence to juror perceptions and decision-making.
The association between the cultivation theory and the “CSI effect” can be regarded to be supported as the “CSI effect” only came to based on the influence of the show. The effect can then be pointed at the effectiveness of the cultivation, particularly with the amount of popularity of these CSI and other crime scene investigation shows. What makes CSI a cultivating source is that viewers are repeatedly presented with the basic premise that a group of experts overcome certain obstacles in uncovering the truth behind any crime by means of the application of scientific and sophisticated approaches.
Since this happens every episode, once a week for several weeks, viewers therefore start to cultivate the possibility of these capabilities mainly because the technologies used in these programs are plausible. The “CSI effect” therefore is an outcome from a cultivation experience wherein people expect that forensics hold all the answers in any criminal event, and that authorities do have the capability to perform the CSI-like investigation and processes.
In the aspect of jury trials, similar to the results of the Maricopa County study, real cases that do not live up to the expectations end up with acquittals, if not, a hung jury. The fear is therefore the phenomenon might lead to a justice system that does not work and that the screening process for prospective jurors may be more difficult. Based on the reviewed literatures, the response to the problem is that the “CSI effect” can be acknowledged to exist based on the precepts of Gerbner’s cultivation theory but its actual impact towards jurors can be examined at a case to case basis.
Given the conflicting results of recent studies, in addition to certain observations on Gerbner’s cultivation theory studies, effects applicable at a more specific level requires an evaluation that do not immediately generalize. It can be seen that in the studies conduced both in the literatures addressing cultivation theory, cultivation theory and crime television, and the “CSI effect”, the results differ depending on the controls of the sample. In Maricopa County, for example, the perceived prevalence of the “CSI effect” can be seen in the assessment of the locality, especially in the collective values of the community.
In the cultivation theory studies conducted by Shrum (1999) and Quick (2009), the results agree with the hypothesis as the samples are generally homogenous. The same is true with the studies conducted by Smith, et al. (2008) and Podlas (2006) respectively, in which these address the “CSI effect”; at this point, none of these studies have been conclusive other than the observation that when it comes to behavioral aspect created by the “CSI effect”, generalizations are limited and what can be deemed more applicable is a case-to-case observation based on the identified sample or group.
The implications of this research can therefore lead to further inquiry towards the “CSI effect” on particular groups. The Maricopa County study can be considered as an important point of study as this establishes a “CSI effect” result according to a specific community or locality.
Community profiles can then be regarded as a potential direction this study can take such as, taking from the study conducted by Heath and Petraitis (1987), certain community groups may respond differently towards media messages. This can also root from the study by Quick (2009) on Grey’s Anatomy viewers in which this time, audience responses with respect to a particular context (hospital dynamics between patient and doctors) are localized among the viewers of the famous medical show.