Another basis of judgment and expectations from the trial proceedings can be seen in the juror’s belief in a just world (Freeman, 2006). As discussed in the previous section, just world beliefs have been strongly associated with heavy television viewers. Although in Freeman’s study media effects are not discussed, this shows how juror behavior may be affected by this belief thereby some studies have shown that those that score high in the Just World Scale were found to give harsher sentences and they tend to represent that have strong stereotypical perceptions (Freeman, 2006).
Based on the previously reviewed relevant literatures discussing Gerbner’s cultivation theory, the “CSI effect” and juror psychology, it can be gathered that literatures at present agree with the influence of the media, including television, in the perceptions of the audiences. The basis of media effects can be seen in how media is a representation of shared belief systems in societies, hence, although the media and television shows can be deemed manipulative and influential, the force behind their success is the relevance that the audience find in these shows.
The role of the media, as Greene and Krcmar (2005) pointed out, can be also attributed to the gratification it brings to the audience, from the thirst for entertainment and information, to the outcomes based on the absorption, thereby leading to certain behaviors. Television is made up of content both the fictional and the non-fictional kind. Although it can be said that the content of the latter presents a more valid source for information that can lead to action, Goidel, Freeman and Procopio (2006) mentioned that there have been news portrayals on crime that had led misperceptions as to the actual facts.
Based on this, if the media would serve as a source for information and reality-formation, then television can be considered as culprit for misrepresentations. However, as Gerbner’s cultivation theory mentioned, the television has played a central role in people’s lives, especially in America. In the world today where people can access all sorts of media such as the electronic and digital, the role of television, instead of getting totally displaced, can be said to be further enhanced (Webster, 2006).
The impact of shows such as CSI can then be said to create a degree of effect to its viewers especially as the show presents methodologies in the context of the scientific world. Although the shows are fiction, as mentioned by Smith, et al. (2008), there are certain valid applications utilized in the show albeit in the end they are glamorized and sensationalized. This is the main point of television, and this is mainly for the purpose of presenting spectacle. The effectiveness of the spectacle can therefore be seen in the believability of the show’s content.
Gillis (2005) mentioned that producers of CSI would do their actual research and consult forensic experts in order to make their episodes real. In addition, the degree of relevance of these shows can be also attributed to its motivation to impact certain political thought and discussion in the framework of fictional entertainment (Holbrook & Hill, 2005). In the end, such shows demonstrate heroism and may cater to individuals with strong opinions on just-world beliefs.
In the discussion as to the “CSI effect’s” actual impact among jurors, reviewed literature show opposing views as to whether it existed, or if it existed only to a certain degree, or it really existed. These three examinations are presented by the studies by Podlas (2006), Tyler (2006), Smith et al. , (2008), and the so far, only empirical study available that support its existence and juror effect, the study executed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (2005). In order to fully understand the possibility of the “CSI effect”, the phenomenon was initially established through the discussions on Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory.
Even this theory, as discussed in the previous sections, was not met without any criticisms although most of the questions as to its validity has been mostly on the effectiveness the processes utilized by the study. There have been also the apparent oversights when it comes to the identification of controls, and Hughes (1980), in response to the study, emphasized the weaknesses of the theory. In any case, what seems to be lacking is in the details; for instance, Hughes (1980) mentioned life experience and personality as integral to the degree of cultivation a viewer may experience, especially when it comes to the results of the process.
This now brings to the observed factor that does require further modifications to the cultivation theory: the element of individual traits. In a study by Nabi and Riddle (2008), the author mentioned how personality traits can either facilitate or impede cultivation, and although viewers may be identified whether they are heavy or light audiences, the amount of message infiltration and actual its actual effects, still, at the end of the day, depends on the individual.