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Media Matters

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How the media you consume impacts how you view money

by Chris O’Shea

The TV sitting in your living room might be more powerful than you ever imagined. That’s one takeaway from a new report that found the way you consume media might impact how you view money, wealthy people and those living in poverty. The phrase “kill your television” might have some merit after all.

The report, by researchers at the London School of Economics and Political Science, found that people who consumed media that celebrated materialism and wealth were more likely to be attached to money and less caring of those in poverty. To come to this conclusion, the researchers showed participants five-second clips of TV shows, news headlines, advertisements and more. One group of participants was shown media that highlighted money and wealth, the other group was shown media that was “financially neutral.”

Once the clips were finished, both groups were asked questions about wealth and welfare programs. Those that were shown the luxury-focused media cared more about personal wealth and less about issues impacting the impoverished than those who were shown the “financially neutral” media. The findings were also evenly spread across all groups. “Irrespective of class, gender, ethnicity and national upbringing, my participants who consumed more mainstream commercial media were also consistently more materialistic and less supportive of welfare benefits and sympathetic to the conditions of the impoverished,” Rodolfo Leyva, the author of the study, explained to US News.

The reason the participants were so easily impacted by the media is that we all have a limited amount of space to care about certain things. So if you are exposed to wealth-centric media, your brain automatically shifts its thinking to that area, while simultaneously pushing out other areas. The key to avoiding this? Simply understanding that it happens. “As one becomes aware and begins the healing process, a person becomes better able to take the external influences in stride and brush them aside,” added Leyva.