By the Numbers

By Jason Marsh | June 1, 2007 | 0 comments

What's good on TV?

Violence on television has long been a scourge of parents, politicians, and children’s advocates. Countless hours have been spent documenting and criticizing—to say nothing of watching—TV’s depiction of murder, torture, and other violent acts.

But what about televised altruism? For the first time ever, researchers have measured the amount of behavior on TV that reflects the brighter side of human nature, and they’ve outlined where viewers can find it.

For 17 hours a day over 12 weeks, researchers recorded 18 channels on American TV—from PBS to Fox to MTV to A&E—and analyzed the results. They were looking for particular kinds of helping or sharing behavior. “If it was a mother helping her own child—that’s not really altruism, it’s role related,” says Sandi Smith, a professor of communication at Michigan State University and one of the lead researchers. “It had to be above and beyond what you’d expect in everyday life.”

Over those 12 weeks, they found that 1,621 programs featured altruistic acts, which represents nearly 73 percent of all the programs they recorded.  There was a total of 5,152 incidents of altruism on those programs, a rate of 2.92 acts per hour.  Here are some other highlights from their study, which was recently published in the Journal of Communication.

Tracker Pixel for Entry
 
 
 

Greater Good wants to know:
Do you think this article will influence your opinions or behavior?

  • Very Likely

  • Likely

  • Unlikely

  • Very Unlikely

  • Not sure

 
About The Author

Jason Marsh is the editor in chief of Greater Good.

  

Like this article?

Here's what you can do:

Donate
 
  
 
blog comments powered by Disqus
 

Most...

  
  

Greater Good Events

Mindful Self-Compassion: Core Skills Training
International House
December 9-10, 2016


Mindful Self-Compassion: Core Skills Training

This workshop is an introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), an empirically-supported training program based on the pioneering research of Kristin Neff and the clinical perspective of Chris Germer.


» ALL EVENTS
 
 

Take a Greater Good Quiz!

How compassionate are you? How generous, grateful, or forgiving? Find out!

» TAKE A QUIZ
 

Watch Greater Good Videos

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Talks by inspiring speakers like Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, and Barbara Fredrickson.

Watch
 

Greater Good Resources

 
 
» MORE STUDIES
 
 
» MORE ORGS
 

Book of the Week

How Pleasure Works By Paul Bloom Bloom explores a broad range of human pleasures from food to sex to religion to music. Bloom argues that human pleasure is not purely an instinctive, superficial, sensory reaction; it has a hidden depth and complexity.

» READ MORE
 
Is she flirting with you? Take the quiz and find out.
"It is a great good and a great gift, this Greater Good. I bow to you for your efforts to bring these uplifting and illuminating expressions of humanity, grounded in good science, to the attention of us all."  
Jon Kabat-Zinn

Best-selling author and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program

thnx advertisement