Mean World Syndrome

George Gerbner, communications researcher and one time Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications, began in 1969 to study the effect of TV viewing on how we think about the world. When TV viewers were asked to estimate the percentage of adults employed in law enforcement, they vastly overestimated relative to non-tv viewers of the same demographic and education. The effect was even more profound on children. His study showed that children who watch a lot of violence on TV are more likely to believe that the world is more violent than in reality, and be more afraid of real world violence.