The Influence Of Television In Our Society

Influence of television

The influential capacity of television, both through soap operas, entertainment, advertisements, news programs…, is widely recognized and has important and persistent repercussions, both at a cognitive and civic and political level.

How does television influence us?

Based on the article “The Political Legacy of Entertainment TV By Ruben Durante, Paolo Pinotti, and Andrea Tesei”, published in the American Economic Review magazine (American Economic Review 2019, 109(7):2497-2530) in which it is measured the influence of accessing and viewing Mediaset content and how it affected people’s critical capacity, especially decision-making and voting intentions towards Berlusconi (this being the reference for populism).

This channel stands out for having so-called “trash TV” content with very little educational content focused on more banal aspects and unsophisticated entertainment than on cultural content, and all of them in general with a tendency towards simplistic content.

Modulating our voting intention

What we see in this study, for example, is that analyzing the differences between the moment in which people had access to said channel, and therefore the time they have been exposed, is directly proportional to the intention to vote for Berlusconi. (Populism) in the different elections held.

If a person was exposed to the content of this television when they were minors, when they reach adulthood, they will be less cognitively sophisticated and they will have less commitment at a socio-political level than boys and girls who were not exposed to this chain, which all of this can end up leading to a vulnerability towards populist rhetoric, which, in this case, was the one used by Berlusconi.

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This is confirmed by the fact that people who watched this “Trash TV” as children had worse performance in numerical calculation and literacy than non-exposed people (data measured through psychometric tests). Regarding the area of ​​least civic commitment, in addition to the ITANES questionnaire, interest in political issues and participation in voluntary associations were taken into account.

Children and older people, the most vulnerable groups

There are two especially important groups and where the effects are greatest, both in people who were exposed to Mediaset (both when they were less than 10 years old and those who did so when they were over 55). These 2 groups are, precisely, the age groups that consume the most television and therefore the ones that are reflecting the greatest effects.

A group of special relevance, due to the worrying influence, is the group that was over 55 years old when they started watching that channel. In this case, the difference is 10 points compared to the same age group but who did not see these contents. We can give a possible explanation by knowing the evolution of the content broadcast by the chain. At first the programming tended to be light content and simple entertainment, little by little these people became regular viewers of the network. Up to this point, the main risk suffered was the tendency of spectators not to develop cognitively or civically.


In 1991, the network introduced news programs, but they suffered a bias in favor of Berlusconi, so not only was there vulnerability to populist rhetoric due to less cognitive sophistication and civic involvement, but they were also the ones who provided it. in their news programs.

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Regarding the voting tendency towards populism of people mainly exposed to Mediaset and who were “educated” with it, the study shows that the difference is up to eight percentage points above the people who were not “educated”. ” with Mediaset.

The influence of Mediaset as soon as the populations stopped voting for Berlusconi in 2013, there was a rise of the 5 Star Movement, a more radical populism. It follows therefore that the vast majority of people who until then had voted for Berlusconi, had now come to support the 5 Star Movement. With this fact, we can reflect that what really achieved the voting intention was more the populist rhetoric, which in both cases is shared, than the policies or ideologies, also highlighting that both formations were especially popular among the less educated and socially committed population. .

Important educational consequences

The results obtained from this study are that the minors who were exposed to this type of television entertainment, as adults they are less cognitively sophisticated and less civic-minded so these factors make them more vulnerable to the populist rhetoric of, in that case that of Berlusconi, and currently that of the 5 Star Movement.

After all this, we have to ask ourselves if this could be happening to ourselves, if it is something we want to happen and to what extent we are susceptible to suffering a negative influence on our political and civic behaviors and end up modifying our own values ​​due to a Bad choice in our entertainment.