The purpose of this study is to determine if cultivation theory and its suggestion that society cultivates ideals of a mean world because of heavy exposure to violent media, pertains to those already incarcerated. Adults, 18 and over, living in the United States completed a survey that measured empathetic and apathetic views of the incarcerated through the viewing of positive and negative portrayals of incarceration. Results indicated that viewer's empathy was significantly higher when viewers watched positive portrayals of incarceration than when they watched negative portrayals. Correlation between age and empathic views was tested. No correlation was found between empathy for positive portrayals of the incarcerated, and the age of the viewer. However, there was a significant negative, albeit weak, relationship between age and empathy toward character in negative portrayals of incarceration. Implications of the findings specifically examining potential for future research and practical applications to destigmatize incarceration are discussed.
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