Does Television Cultivate Images of America in Japan?:
The mainstreaming effect
The Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania
135 S. 19th St. The Wellington #1511
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Internet: [log in to unmask]
(Address in Japan)
Fukushima, 960, JAPAN
Running head: Does TV cultivate U.S. images in Japan?
This article addressed the issue of whether television in Japan had
negative impacts on perceptions of U.S. society. The survey data showed
that TV in Japan did not necessarily cultivate unfavorable images.
Results indicated that regardless of the direction of television's
contribution, the predictive power of television exposure was weak. The
study also demonstrated evidence of mainstreaming, implying heavy
consumption of television may contribute to a homogenized view of U.S.
society in Japan.
Does TV cultivate U.S. images in Japan?
Does Television Cultivate Images of America in Japan?:
The mainstreaming effect
This article explores the relationship between television viewing and
perceptions of American society in Japan. Specifically, I am
with whether Japanese television contributes to the formation of
unfavorable perceptions or images of the U.S. The underlying motivation
of this study derives from the following.
Mass media both in the U.S. and Japan often report that recently there
is a growing feeling of dislike or distaste toward America in Japan,
such a new form of anti-Americanism is especially strong among the
generation (e.g., Honma & Eto, 1991; Rapoport, 1991, Weisman,
There have been ups and downs in the perception of America in Japan,
it is said that we now face the deepest split between the two
since World War II. K. Suzuki (1992), however, called such a
"a pseudo-crisis," which is created and amplified by the mass media.
Although there really exist some tensions and conflicts between Japan
and the U.S. over the issues of trade imbalance and the U.S-Japan
security treaty, some prominent journalists criticize that the mass
media put too much emphasis on negative aspects of the U.S.-Japan
relations, thereby contributing to the creation of negative images of
America people and society among Japanese audience (e.g., Ando, 1991;
Since many of the Japanese still have limited direct contact with
America and Americans, most beliefs and conceptions many Japanese hold
in common about America can be considered to be formed by exposure
portrayals in newspapers, magazines, and, above all, television.
An important question is whether the Japanese media, above all,
television really contributes to the formation of negative or
unfavorable perceptions of American people and society. This article is
based upon a larger study addressed this issue. Because of the
space, this report can deal with only one set of questions about
of the U.S. among many items assessing a variety of aspects. The
relationship between television exposure and other aspects of
perceptions of American and Americans was partially reported elsewhere.
Research concerning television's contribution to our perceptions of
social reality has often been guided by cultivation theory for these
decades. (e.g., Gerbner, 1973; Gerbner & Gross, 1976; Gerbner,
Morgan, & Signorielli, 1980, 1986, 1994; Hawkins & Pingree, 1980,
1990; Matabane, 1988; Morgan & Shanahan, 1991, 1992; Potter, 1986).
Cultivation theory postulates that the more time people spend watching
television, the more likely it is that their conceptions of social
reality will reflect what is seen on television. Furthermore, the
theory contends that heavy consumption of television contributes to a
homogenized view of the real world. This function of television is
called mainstreaming. According to Gerbner et al. (1986),
"Mainstreaming means that television viewing may absorb or override
differences in perspectives and behavior that stem from other social,
cultural, and demographic influences" (p. 31).
Several researchers have thus far questioned or challenged Gerbner et
al.'s conceptual assumptions, methodologies, and findings. But an
extensive review of such criticisms is beyond the scope of this article.
The following is a brief review of literature which is most relevant to
the present study. For more extensive review of this research area,
Hawkins and Pingree (1982), Ogles (1987) and Potter (1993).
While many studies concerning cultivation theory focus on TV violence,
the theory has been also applied to a wide variety of topics
images of America (Weimann, 1984; Tan, Li, & Simpson, 1986; Tan &
Suarchavarat, 1988; Tamborini and Choi, 1990).
Weimann (1984) reported that heavy television viewers in Israel
demonstrated a strong and consistent tendency to paint a rosier picture
of life in the U.S. Other researchers found that negative images of
U.S. were also cultivated by made-in-U.S.A. programs. Tan, Li, and
Simpson (1986), for example, asserted that some American programs in
Taiwan and Mexico might cultivate unfavorable images of Americans.
According to them, the influence of American television programs "can
either be positive or negative, depending on which programs are
and the symbols present in these programs" (p. 810), because
images of Americans are presented in different programs. Tan and
Suarchavarat (1988) reported similar findings for their Thai student sa
mple. They mentioned that American television was a major source of
social stereotypes about Americans and that their images were mixed
included both positive and negative traits.
Tamborini and Choi (1990) reported complex results. They studied the
impact of American Armed Forces Television Network (AFKN-TV) to
college students in terms of various perceptions about crime, drug
abuse, sexual permissiveness, and affluence in the U.S. Their findings
show "while AFKN-TV crime/adventure show viewing was a relatively
predictor for 'mean world' perceptions of U.S. society, several
AFKN-TV viewing measures (i.e., total viewing, information program
viewing, entertainment program viewing) showed no association with
perceptions of crime in the United States" (Tamborini and Choi, 1990, p.
The existing cultivation studies that focus on images of American
culture and people deal with the impact of U.S. programs on a
non-American audience, because television programs in the investigated
countries largely consist of imported programs from the U.S. For
example, Weimann (1984) reported that in Israel more than 60 % of
broadcasting time was allocated to imported (mostly American) programs.
Throughout its forty-year history, however, Japanese TV's reliance
imported programs has been low. This has been especially the case
the 1970's: imported programs consist of only 5 % of total
time (Kawatake, 1988, 1994). As will be discussed later, domestic
programs in Japan often depict America and Americans. Thus not only
U.S. programs but also other type of programs on Japanese TV may have
some impacts on the formation of American images. It should be
which elements of TV (e.g., TV news, U.S. programs, or overall TV
content) have the most measurable impact.
America and Americans on Japanese Television
The mass media in Japan often report in great detail about foreign
countries and people. However, the media coverage of foreign countries
is disproportionately slanted toward the United States. For example,
Hagiwara, Midooka and Nakamura's (1987) content analysis of TV
about foreign countries and people indicated that Japanese TV
the United States much more frequently than other countries.
Akiyama and Amano (1988) pointed out that Japanese major newspapers
report more news about the United States than about other countries.
They also stated that the same tendency of heavy American-biased media
coverage may be found in other media such as movies, magazines, or
literature. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that "foreign coun
try" in the Japanese mass media usually means "America."
American portrayals on Japanese TV consist of two broad categories: the
imported programming such as American drama and movies, and the
programming such as news, documentaries and commercials. To examine
foreign countries and people are portrayed on television, Hagiwara
al. (1987) did content analysis of TV programs broadcast during the
first week of June in 1985 which contained any kind of foreign
The genres analyzed in their study were documentaries, quiz shows,
dramas and TV movies. Of 66 programs analyzed, 37 were fictions and 29
nonfictions. While all of the fictions were made out of Japan and
them were dramas or movies imported from the U.S., all of 29
were made in Japan.
Drama and movies imported from the United States were popular in the
1960s in Japan. According to Kawatake (1994), over 50
programs were broadcast every week during 1961 to 1964, and those
were mainly shown in prime time. The popularity of the American
programs, however, declined during the 1970s. Since then, Japanese TV's
reliance on imported programs has been very low. In 1971, imported
programs consisted of only 5 % of total broadcasting time, and the
situation has been almost the same in the 1980s and 1990s (Kawatake,
1994). There are only few American drama and movies shown on Japanese
television in recent years. Programs that are shot in foreign
by Japanese producers, featuring Japanese actors and reporters, are
While their amount of broadcasting is not substantial on Japanese
television, most of the imported programs consist of American drama and
movies. According to Kawatake and Hara (1994), 72.8% of the total
imported programs aired during June 1993 and December 1993 were
made-in-USA, which was followed by British produced programs (9.3%) and
French produced programs (4.1%). 88.1% of those American programs
drama or movies, and about 60% of the American drama and movies were
action/adventure or thrillers. Among all of the imported programs, 18
of the top 20 in the audience rating were Hollywood-produced
movies, such as Terminator 2, Commando, Back to the Future 3, and
According to Hagiwara et al. (1987), the American dramas televised
June, 1985 were most action/adventure and crime dramas like "Starsky
Hutch," "Hart to Hart" or "Kojak" and most of them were reruns that
been aired in the past, and received low audience ratings. They
out that these shows were amazingly similar in substance and
stereotypical in terms that (1) the stories occurred in big cities, (2)
major characters were whites, (3) upper-class family were central of
stories and (4) women did not play important social roles.
Kawatake (1988) mentioned that because they were relatively unpopular
in recent years, TV drama and movies imported from the U.S. might
contribute much to the formation of American images among Japanese
viewers. He stated that instead of American-produced programs, it is TV
news, documentaries, and commercials made in Japan that might take
the role of introducing America and Americans to the Japanese.
this seems to be the case, we should not underestimate a possibility
that some U.S. drama or movies have a strong impact on our perceptions
of American society because they might be most salient.
In news programs about foreign countries, Japanese TV frequently deals
with the United States. For example, Kawatake's study (1988)
that nearly half of all TV news in Japan included some reference to
foreign countries, and 45 percent of all foreign news was related to
United States. A more recent study conducted by NHK and Mansfield
Center for Pacific Affairs (Kawasaki & Kohno, 1994) showed that about 33
percent of all international news in Japan dealt with the U.S. or
U.S.-Japan relations. This figure is slightly lower than that of
Kawatake's, but still relatively high. It thus can be argued that TV
news is a very important element in forming images of America among
News related to the U.S. are not those produced by Japanese TV stations
but mainly those which are produced by either American TV stations
as ABC and NBC or international news agencies such as VISNEWS, WTS,
CBSNEWS and transmitted via satellite. News coverage on the U.S. is
comprised mainly of so-called feature stories covering a wide variety
topics: economy, politics, sports, science, trade friction etc.
Kawatake (1988) summarized the characteristics of the news related to
the U.S. as follows: (1) news showing social problems in the U.S.;
news about the dynamics of the business world in the U.S.; (3) news
demonstrating America's political power; (4) news depicting some
of the U.S. as the "free" country; (5) news dealing with new trends
Besides news and American produced programs, other program types on
Japanese television depict aspects of America society. For example,
according to Kawatake (1988), about 30 percent of documentaries
to foreign countries contain some portrayal of the U.S. Since many
these portray social problems in the U.S., such as the perceived
in high school education or children of divorced families, Kawatake
pointed out that such negative portrayals of the U.S. might form biased
images of America among Japanese audiences. Commercials also convey
images of America. According to M. Suzuki (1992), approximately 30
percent of all commercials aired between 7 and 9 p.m. showed aspects of
foreign countries, and 35 percent of them contained portrayals of
U.S. In general, commercials on Japanese television depict positive
American images, emphasizing such concepts as openness, brightness, or
grandness, and most American characters are described as cheerful,
progressive or civilized.
In sum, portrayals of America on Japanese TV are mixed including both
positive and negative images. While Japanese TV often emphasizes
problems in the U.S. such as high crime rates and the prevalence of
AIDS, it also depicts positive aspects of the U.S. including an image
a free country and the dynamism of American politics.
This study is guided by the following research questions.
(1) Does television in Japan have negative impacts on perceptions of
American society? This is the most fundamental question in the
study. As mentioned earlier, some social critics argue that mass
in Japan may have negative effects on Japanese audience perceptions
America through emphasizing unfavorable aspects of the U.S.-Japan
relations or U.S. society. This study attempts to provide some clues
concerning whether such an opinion is true.
(2) what element(s) of television has (have) the most measurable impact
on the perceptions of America? This is a kind of subquestion of the
first one. This research question addresses the issue of whether
television viewing or viewing some specific genres is more
the medium's influence on the perceptions of American society. This
y focuses on the possible impact of TV news and U.S. programs.
(3) Compared to other relevant factors, how much does television
viewing play an important role in forming the perceptions of America?
It is highly likely that not only mass media depictions but also some
other factors such as direct experience and information from friends
family members may have some impacts on the formation of images and
beliefs about the United States. A question is "what is the relative
importance of TV viewing on the formation of perceptions?"
(4) Does television in Japan exert a homogenizing influence on viewers'
images of U.S. society? Based on the mainstreaming hypothesis, we
expect that the difference in perceptions of U.S. society within a
specific subgroup will be lessened among heavy viewers, regardless of
the direction of television's contribution. Morgan (1990) explained
underlying reasoning as "people who spend great amounts of time
television are likely to be exposed to a more centralized,
standardized ideology and world view; hence, they should be more
each other than they are like the members of their groups who watch
less" (p. 244).
The sample of this study was drawn from Sendai, the largest city in the
northeastern region of Japan. Five hundred people of 20 years old
over who lived in Sendai city were selected on a two-stage
sampling method. Questionnaires were administered in person by
interviewers from April 17 to April 30, 19931. The final sample
comprised 403 completed interviews; the response rate was 80.6 %.
The sample included 48.1% males (coded 1) and 51.9% females (coded 0).
Respondents ranged in age from 20 to 82 (M=48.0, SD=16.8): 36.5%
20-39 years old, 31.75% were 40-59 years, 31.75% were 60 year old or
over. As to the level of formal education, 11.0% were junior high
school graduates, 45.1% were senior high school graduates, 25.4% were
junior college or equivalent school graduates, 17.5% were college
students or graduates, and 1.0% had attended graduate school.
Direct experience of visiting the United States: Respondents were
asked if they had visited the United States (coded 1 for yes; 0 for
no) and how long they had stayed there (if yes). Only 13.4 % of the
sample have some experience of visiting the United States (except
Hawaii). 44.4% of those with some experience stayed in the U.S. for
less than one week. There were only six respondents who stayed in
the U.S. for more than three months. Most of the sample thus do not
have substantial direct experience in the U.S. On the other hand,
90.1% of the respondents said the U.S. is the most important foreign
country to Japan.
Information from others (interpersonal communication channel):
Respondents were asked if, among their close friends or family members,
there were persons who had visited the U.S. If yes, they were also
asked how often they talked with them about the U.S. For subsequent
analyses, the respondents were divided into two groups (dummy coded):
(1) those who talked about the U.S. with others who had visiting
experience to the U.S. (coded 1); (2) those who did not have close
friends or family members with visiting experience to the U.S. or those
who did not talk about the U.S. with others who had visiting
to the U.S. (coded 0).
The questionnaire was lengthy and contained items assessing a variety
of opinions and beliefs about America and media habits. This
analyzed the following items.
Media Exposure Measures
The amount of total television viewing was measured by two questions
asking respondents to indicate: (a) how many hours of television they
usually watch on weekdays and (b) how many hours of television they
usually watch on the weekend. An index of viewing level (total TV
viewing) was constructed by averaging the weekday and weekend viewing
hours (M=3.2, SD=1.6 per day). The amount of TV news viewing was
measured by the question of how much time they usually spend watching TV
news (M=1.2, SD=0.8 per day). Respondents were also asked to
how often they watch U.S. drama/movies on TV on a 6-point scale
from "almost never" to "more than 4 time a week." 35% said they
watch U.S. drama/movies, 32% just once a month, 12% 2 to 3 times a
month, 13% once a week and only 8% are those who watch them more than 2
or 3 times a week. Respondents were also asked their amount of
newspaper reading (per day).
Measures on perceptions of the U.S.
Comparison of U.S. and Japanese society: Mainly because of the limited
space, this article focuses on one set of questions. Respondents
asked how they compare today's Japan and the United States in various
aspects: (a) educational standard (b) technological standard (c)
economic strength (d) standard of living (e) level of democracy. The
scale was: 1=Japan is superior to the US; 2=Japan is somewhat superior
the US; 3=about the same; 4=The US is somewhat superior to Japan;
US is superior to Japan. This set of questions was dependent
in this study.
Independent variables: Total TV viewing, TV news viewing and U.S.
program viewing are the three most important predictor variables in this
study2. For some analyses, respondents were divided into groups by
approximate three-way split of total TV viewing, TV news viewing and
U.S. drama/movie viewing. The categories were as follows: (1) for the
total TV viewing measure, light viewers (less than 17 hours per
medium viewers (17 to 26 hours per week), and heavy viewers (27
more per week); (2) for the TV news viewing measure, light viewers
minutes or less per day), medium viewers (one hour per day), and
viewers (one hour and a half or more per day); (3) for the U.S.
drama/movie viewing measure, non viewers (almost never), light viewers
(once a month), and frequent viewers (2 to 3 times or more per
Continuous data are also used in other analyses such as partial
lation or regression analyses.
Analytical procedures were as follows. First, cross-tabular analysis
was conducted. This analytical method is the most simple yet
feature of Gerbner et al's cultivation analysis. Contingency tables
compare responses of light, medium, and heavy viewers in various
Although it provides baseline information, crosstabular analysis does
not fully guard against spuriousness. In order to examine whether
simultaneous controls of third variables the relationships found in
first analysis were not spurious, therefore, partial correlations
computed between the TV exposure measures (total TV viewing, TV news
viewing, and U.S. program viewing, respectively) and the items about
perceptions of U.S. society.
To address the research question of what the relative predictable power
of television viewing on the perceptions of America is, multiple
regression analysis was also conducted. Predictor variables include
age, sex, level of education, TV exposure, direct experience, and so
Figure 1 demonstrates the frequency distribution of the items of
comparing today's Japan and the United States in various aspects: (a)
educational standard (b) technological standard (c) national economic
strength (d) standard of living (e) level of democracy. We can see
this figure that the respondents tended to think Japan was more or
superior to the U.S. in educational standard and economic strength.
About 63% of the respondents considered Japan to be superior or
superior to the U.S. in educational standard. Similarly about 57%
Japan was superior (or somewhat superior) to the U.S. in national
economic strength. On the other hand, approximately 59% of the
respondents perceived that the U.S. was superior (or somewhat superior) t
o Japan in level of democracy. Respondents' views of technological
standard and standard of living were relatively well balanced3.
Insert Figure 1 about here
As the first stage of analyses, cross-tabular analysis was conducted in
order to compare responses of light, medium, and heavy viewers in
control conditions. Tables 1 to 5 show the results of the
analysis. These tables include the following information. They
percentage of respondents who chose the answers that "Japan is
to or somewhat superior to the United States" in those five aspects,
overall and within each demographic subgroup. The tables also provide
the Cultivation Differential (CD), which is defined as the difference
between heavy and light viewers. Statistical significance was
by chi-square test. The strength of association between TV exposure
the perceptions was measured by gammas.
As an overall tendency, none of the three predictors (total TV viewing,
TV news viewing and U.S. program viewing) showed strong associations
with the perceptions about U.S. society as compared with Japan.
Although in general CDs and gammas were relatively small, there were
several points that should be pointed out. For example, for all of
these five items, heavy total TV viewers among the highly educated were
more likely than light total TV viewers to think that Japan was
to the U.S. Let us take a look at these tables one by one.
Table 1 shows the results for the item of educational standard. Among
those 40 to 59 years old, heavier viewers (both total TV and TV
were more likely to think Japan was superior to the U.S. in
standard. For example, while 75% of heavy TV news viewers in this
group said that Japan was superior or somewhat superior to the U.S.
educational standard, the corresponding figure among light TV news
viewers was 40% (CD=+35, p<.01; gamma=.34). Dividing the respondents by
the level of total TV viewing, a similar tendency appeared: 67% for
heavy total TV viewers vs. 44% for light total TV viewers (CD=+23,
p<.05; gamma=.23). Although it was not statistically significant, the
reverse tendency was observed when U.S. program viewing was used as
predictor. While 52% of frequent U.S. program viewers said Japan
(somewhat) superior to the U.S. in educational standard, 70% of non
program viewers said so (CD=-18, n.s.; gamma=-.29). A similar
was observed in the group with high education (CD=-14, n.s.;
gamma=-.21). Partial correlation analysis, in which some third
variables were simultaneously controlled, confirmed the tendency noted
above. For example, 5th-order partial correlation in the middle age
group between TV news viewing and the perception was .26 (p<.01).
Insert Table 1 about here
As Table 2 reveals, the level of TV news viewing appears an important
predictor variable for the item of technological standard. The
clearly shows that heavier TV news viewers were less likely than
viewers to regard Japan as superior to or somewhat superior to the
in technological standard. The numbers of those who said, "Japan is
superior to the U.S." were 25% in heavy TV news viewers and 41% in
TV news viewers (CD=-16, p<.01; gamma=-.23). Most of the subgroups
showed the same tendency. Implementing the simultaneous third variable
controls, the association between TV news viewing and the perception
slightly reduced but basically remained (marginally) significant.
example, among the middle age group (those 40 to 59 years old),
correlation was marginally significant (5th-order partial r=-.13,
p<.10). Similarly, 5th-order partial correlation was -.13 (p<.10) in
the highly educated. Thus as far as the perception about
standard is concerned, TV news seems to cultivate less nationalistic
views of the U.S in Japan.
Insert Table 2 about here
The level of total TV viewing had some measurable impact on the
perception about national economic strength. As shown in Table 3, heavy
total TV viewers tended to have slightly more nationalistic views
light viewers (CD=+12; gamma=.14). Some subgroups showed stronger
associations. For example, 71% of heavy TV viewers among males chose
"Japan is superior to or somewhat superior to the U.S. in economic
strength," but this figure in light male TV viewers was 46% (CD=+25,
p<.05; gamma=.30). Similarly, in the middle age group (40 to 59 years
old), while 70% of heavy TV viewers thought Japan was superior to
U.S. in economic strength, only 46% of light viewers hold such a view
(CD=+24, p<.10; gamma=.34). Again, these tendencies observed by
cross-tabular analysis generally hold up even after controlling for some
third variables at the same time.
Insert Table 3 about here
Table 4 reveals that there was only weak association between TV
exposure measures and the perception about standard of living. In most
of the subgroups, the association (tested by chi-square) was not
significant. But there was one clear example of TV's impact. In the
highly educated, heavy total TV viewers were much more likely to see
Japan was superior to the U.S. in standard of living than light TV
viewers (CD=+31, p<.01; gamma=.31). Partial correlation analysis
confirmed this tendency (5th-order partial r=.21, p<.01).
Insert Table 4 about here
Table 5 provides the results for the item of level of democracy. This
table shows that there is a weak tendency that heavier TV news
were more likely to regard U.S. as more superior to Japan in level
democracy (e.g., CD=-8; gamma=-.19 for overall). Within subgroups,
example, female respondents showed a slightly stronger association
(CD=-11, p<.05; gamma=-.27). Curiously the reverse tendency was
observed when the level of total TV viewing was used as the independent
variable. Although most of the associations were not significant,
total TV viewers showed a slightly more nationalistic view than
Insert Table 5 about here
To examine the relative predictive power of television exposure, a
series of hierarchical multiple regression analysis was also performed.
As the preceding analyses implied, the measurable impact of the
TV exposure would be weak. In addition to the level of TV viewing,
predictor variables include age, sex, level of education, direct
experience, and frequency of talking about the United States with
friends or family members who have visited the U.S. Sex (male=1,
female=0), direct experience of visiting the U.S. (yes=1, no=0), and
talks about the United States with friends or family members who have
visited the U.S. (yes=1, no=0) were dummy coded. Demographic
(sex, age, and education) were entered on the first step to control
any variance to cultivation effects. Information from direct
and talks with others was entered on the second step. Because this
study predicts the impact of television viewing, TV exposure measures
were entered on the third step.
Tables 6 to 10 present the results of multiple regression analyses.
Three of the 5 equations were significant at the level of p<.05. In
four of the five equations, the level of television viewing was not a
significant predictor at the traditional level of significance. Let
take a closer look at each table.
Level of Education (Table 6). On the first step, sex was a
significant positive predictor. On step 2, sex remained significant and
talk with others also became a marginally significant predictor (p
<.10). In the final analysis, only sex (b=.12, p<.05) was the
significant predictor. Talks with others and TV news viewing were
marginally significant: talk with others (b=-.09, p<.10, and TV news
viewing (b=.09, p<.10). The final equation accounted only for 3.6 %
Insert Table 6 about here
Technological Standard (Table 7). The final equation accounted for 7.2
% of the variance. Sex (b=.13, p<.05) and talks with others
p<.001) were significant predictor in the final equation. TV news
viewing was also marginally significant (b=-.10, p<.10)
Insert Table 7 about here
National Economic Strength (Table 8). On any of the three steps, none
of the variables in the equations were significant. Only 2.2 % of
variance was explained by the 8 predictors in the final equation.
Insert Table 8 about here
Standard of Living (Table 9). The demographics accounted for 4.4 % of
the variance at the first step. On step 2, age and education
significant. In the final analysis, significant predictors were:
=-.22, p<.01) and education (b=-.12, p<.05). None of the TV
measures was significant. The final equation accounted for only 6.7
of the variance.
Insert Table 9 about here
Level of Democracy (Table 10). The final equation accounted for 7.7% of
the variance. The significant predictors were Education (b=-.14,
p<.05), talks with others (b=-.11, p<.05), Total TV viewing (b=.11,
p<.05) and TV news viewing (b=-.18, p<.01). In this equation, TV news
viewing was the strongest predictor, though the predictive power was
Insert Table 10 about here
In sum, the results of multiple regression analysis revealed that only
in one equation, TV exposure measures (both total TV viewing and TV
viewing) were significant predictor variables (Table 10). In this
equation, however, Total TV viewing and TV news viewing showed the
opposite direction of influence. Heavy exposure to total TV leads
audience to more nationalistic images. On the other hand, TV news
viewing was the negative predictor, which implies that viewing TV news
may cultivate more favorable images of American society. In
two equations (level of education and technological standard), the
of TV news viewing was found near the traditional level of
(p<.10). The level of U.S. program viewing was not a significant
dictor in all of these five equations.
It should be noted that the predictive powers of TV exposure measures
were relatively weak. None of the three TV exposure measures
much of the variance. Compared to other relevant factors such as
and talks with others, TV exposure measures also were not always
So far, cross-tabular, partial correlation and multiple regression
analyses all demonstrated the relatively weak predictive power of TV
exposure measures. If we had stopped our analyses here, we would have
mistakenly concluded that TV viewing has little influence on the
perceptions about U.S. society as compared with Japan. However, a
closer look at the subgroup variation shown by the cross-tabular
analysis revealed a very intriguing pattern among different age
subgroups. Except one item (level of democracy), the mainstreaming
effect was observed in four items with TV news viewing. Figures 2 to 5
demonstrate this phenomenon. For example, among light TV news
there exist wide differences in the perception about national
strength. While 62% of the young people said Japan was superior to
U.S., the corresponding figure was 36% in the older people (those 60
years old and over). But this difference was greatly lessened among
medium and heavy TV news viewers.
Insert Figures 2 to 5 about here
Before discussing the implications of the findings, it must be stressed
that although this study theoretically and methodologically owes
cultivation analysis, the main purpose of this study was not to test
cultivation hypothesis but to explore complex patterns of
between exposure to television and perceptions of U.S. society in
While content analysis studies reviewed in this article reveal some
aspects of the depiction of American society, data on the details of
content of American images on Japanese television is limited. As
(1990) stated, it is difficult to conduct meaningful cultivation
without reliable and comprehensive content analysis data. But at
same time, we should keep in mind that "message system analysis is an
extremely expensive and time-consuming undertaking; ...the absence of
message data should not prevent cultivation researchers from taking
advantage of special data collection opportunities" (Morgan, 1990, p.
243). Morgan also pointed out that, for certain types of research
questions, especially those related to mainstreaming, "message data
(while always desirable) are less essential" (p. 243).
The results indicate that television in Japan may not necessarily
cultivate negative perceptions of American society. When respondents
were asked whether they thought Japan was superior to the U.S. in
aspects, heavier viewers did not always show more nationalistic
than light viewers. When respondents were asked about educational
standard and economic strength, heavy viewers in some subgroups (e.g.,
the middle age people) were more likely to choose the answer that
was superior to the U.S. But concerning technological standard or
of democracy, heavy TV news viewers in some subgroups (e.g., females
the young respondents) were less likely to say Japan was superior to
U.S. Thus it seems reasonable to say that television in Japan may
cultivate both positive and negative images of U.S. society
In this study, total TV viewing, TV news viewing and U.S. program
viewing were used as the separate independent variables to examine what
element(s) of television have the most measurable influence on the
images of Americans. The results indicate that the measure of TV news
viewing may be a better indicator of some aspects of the images of
American society than the total television viewing measure. The
perceptions about U.S. and Japanese society in terms of technological
standard and level of democracy were more associated with the level
TV news viewing than the level of total TV viewing. This finding
provides evidence supporting the argument suggested by some cultivation
researchers that not only the amount of total TV viewing but also
amount of a specific genre viewing could be a good predictor variable
(e.g., Hawkins & Pingree, 1981; Weaver & Wakshlag, 1986; Potter,
although in this report the level of U.S. program viewing was not a
The results also showed that compared with other relevant factors such
as demographic variables and direct experience, television exposure
measures were not always better predictors of the perceptions of
American society. Regardless of the direction of television's
influence, none of the three TV viewing measures in this study had
strong predictive power. It should be also noted that in the regression
analyses, the variables used in this study explained only small
of variance. Future research needs to explore other possible
contribute to the formation of American images.
The evidence of mainstreaming was perhaps the most clear finding in this
report. While the results of this study did not present clear-cut
evidence of television's negative influence on the perceptions of
American society, they suggested that television might exert a
homogenizing influence on some aspects of American images in Japan.
1. The research reported in this article was supported by a grant from
Hoso Bunka Foundation in Japan. The survey was conducted by Survey
Research Inc., Japan.
2. Intercorrelations among these three were: (a) r=.386, p<.001 for
total TV viewing and TV news viewing; (b) r=.217, p<.001 for TV news
viewing and U.S. drama/movie viewing; (c) r=.183, p<.001 for total
viewing and U.S. drama/movie viewing. Although these three
are positively correlated, the correlations of these sizes do not
guarantee that these three exposure measures are interchangeable. Thus
these three exposure measures could be different independent
3. Although the survey items are not strictly comparable, NHK's national
sampling data show a similar results (Akiyama & Amano, 1988). In
NHK survey, respondents were asked to choose their opinions about
educational standard, economic strength, technological standard and so
on from the following: (1) Japan has surpassed the U.S., (2) Japan
already overtaken the U.S., (3) Japan is still behind the U.S., and
don't know. For example, 34% of the national sample perceived that
Japan had already surpassed the U.S. in educational standard, and 35%
thought it had overtaken the U.S. Similarly, 20% said Japan had
surpassed the U.S. in technological standard, and 40% viewed it had
overtaken the U.S. But 55% said Japan was still behind the U.S. in
standard of living. Akiyama and Amano (1988) reported that the
of perceiving Japan has already surpassed the U.S. was strongest
the young people, especially in the teenagers.
Akiyama, T., & Amano, C. (1988). Nihonjin no kokusai ishiki(Attitude of
Japanese towards Japan and other countries). The NHK Monthly Report
Broadcast Research, 38(5), 2-21.
Ando, H. (1991). Nichibei Joho Masatsu [The Japan-U.S. information
friction]. Tokyo: Iwanami.
Gerbner, G. (1973). Cultural indicators: The third voice. In G.Gerbner,
L.Gross, and W.Melody (Eds.), Communication, technology and social
policy. John Wiley & Sons: New York.
Gerbner, G., and Gross, L. (1976). Living with television: the violence
profile. Journal of Communication, 26, 172-199.
Gerbner, G., Gross, L, Morgan, M, & Signorielli, N. (1980). The
mainstreaming of America: Violence profile no.11. Journal of
Communication, 30(3), 10-29.
Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1986). Living
with television: The dynamics of the cultivation process. In J.Bryant
and D.Zillmann (Eds.), Perspectives on media effects. Lawrence
Assoc., Inc.: N.J.
Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., and Signorielli, N. (1994). Growing
up with television: The cultivation perspective. In J.Bryant and
D.Zillmann (Eds.), Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Researh. N.J.:
Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., Inc.
Hagiwara, S, Midooka, K, & Nakamura, M. (1987). Terebi no nakano gaikoku
gaikokujin [Foreign countries and people in the world of television].
Shimbungaku Hyoron, 36, 57-72
Hawkins, R.P., & Pingree, S. (1980). Some processes in the cultivation
effect. Communication Research, 7, 193-226.
Hawkins, R.P., & Pingree, S. (1981). Uniform content and habitual
viewing: Unnecessary assumptions in social reality effects. Human
Communication Research, 7, 291-301.
Hawkins, R.P., & Pingree, S. (1982). Television's influence on social
reality. In D. Pearl, L. Bouthilet, & J.Lazar (Eds.)., Television
behavior: Ten years of scientific progress and implications for
eighties. (DHHS Publication No. ADM 82-1196, Vol 2, pp. 224-247).
Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Hawkins, R.P., & Pingree, S. (1990). Divergent psychological processes
in constructing social reality from mass media content. In
N.Signorielli and M.Morgan (Eds.), Cultivation analysis. Newbury Park:
Honma, N., & Eto J. (1991, June). Nihonjin ha naze amerika ga kirai ka
[Why do Japanese dislike America?]. Bungen shunju.
Kawasaki, I., & Kohno, M. (1994). Nichibei terebi nyusu no hikaku (A
comparative study of U.S. and Japanese television news).The NHK
Report on Broadcast Research, 44(6), 2-17.
Kawatake, K. (1988). Nippon no Imeiji [Images of Japan]. Tokyo: Nihon
Hoso Shuppan Kyokai.
Kawatake, K. (1994). Nihon wo chushin tosuru terebi joho furo no genjo
to mondai ten [Television flow to and from Japan: Present situation
problems]. Johotsushin-Gakkaishi, 43, 54-63.
Kawatake, K., & Hara, Y. (1994). The distribution of TV programs
centering on Japan: Foreign programs in TV broadcasting in Japan and
Japanese programs in overseas broadcasting (in Japanese). The NHK
Monthly Report on Broadcast Research, 44(11), 2-17.
Matabane, P. W. (1988). Television and the Black audience: cultivating
moderate perspectives on racial integration. Journal of
Morgan, M. (1990). International Cultivation analysis. In N.Signorielli
and M.Morgan (Eds.), Cultivation analysis: New directions in media
effects research (pp. 225-247). Sage publication, Inc: CA.
Morgan, M., & Shanahan, J. (1991). Television and the cultivation of
political attitudes in Argentina. Journal of Communication, 41(1),
Morgan, M., & Shanahan, J. (1992). Comparative cultivation analysis:
Television and adolescents in Argentina and Taiwan. In. F. Korzenny
S. Ting-Toomey (Eds.), Mass Media Effects Across Cultures (pp. 173-
197). Newbury Park: Sage.
Ogles, R.M. (1987). Cultivation analysis: Theory, methodology, and
current research on television-influenced constructions of social
reality. Mass Comm Review, 14, 43-53.
Potter, W.J. (1986). Perceived reality and the cultivation hypothesis.
Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 30, 159-173.
Potter, W.J. (1993). Cultivation theory and research: A conceptual
critique. Human Communication Research, 19(4), 564-601.
Rapoport, C. (1991, May 6). The big split. Fortune, pp. 38-48.
Suzuki, K. (1992). Nichibei "kiki" to houdou [Japan-U.S. crisis and
media coverage]. Tokyo: Iwanami.
Suzuki, M. (1992). Terebi: Dareno tameno media ka [Television: Whose
medium is it?]. Tokyo: Gakugei Shorin.
Tamborini, R., & Choi, J. (1990). The role of cultural diversity in
cultivation research. In N.Signorielli and M.Morgan (Eds.),
analysis: New directions in media effects research (pp. 157-180).
publication, Inc: CA.
Tan, A.S., Li, S., & Simpson, C. (1986). American TV and social
stereotypes of Americans in Taiwan and Mexico. Journalism Quarterly,
Tan, A.S., & Suarchavarat, K. (1988). American TV and social stereotypes
of Americans in Thailand. Journalism Quarterly, 65(4), 648-654.
Weimann, G. (1984). Images of life in America: The impact of U.S. T.V.
in Israel. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 8,
Weisman, S.R. (1991, October 16). Japanese coin word for their unease
about U.S. The New York Times, p. A14.