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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


APARICIO, Miriam. Institutional culture and mental homogenization: An analysis of its impact in universitary students. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2005, vol.22, n.2, pp. 123-154. ISSN 1668-7027.

This study tests hypotheses included in the psycho-sociocommunicational paradigm, which emphasizes the long term cognitive effects of the media and the role of the psychosocial subject as recipient: the hypothesis of agenda-setting. The primary objectives were: (1) to elucidate such effects in audiences with different levels of education, (2) to detect levels of manipulation and homogenization of the mental maps linked with the centralization of the fourth power, to ascertain personality factors which condition differential receptivity of the addresses (filter of the news) related to the socio-evaluative context. Two lines interest us: the first emphasizes the effects of the media according to individual psychology, and the second, centered on different parameters linked with psychosocial characteristics of the youths and the messages. Finally, the central hypotheses are offered, taking into account that forty nine were considered: (a) there would be a marked correlation between the order of importance assigned to the information by the media and the one adopted by youths (high incidence of mental construing), (b) receptivity of the addresses would vary according to cognitive competence and (c) certain psychological characteristics would render the subject less impressionable to media influence. The sample was made up of graduates (N = 516) and drop-outs from eighteen careers in Universidad Nacional de Cuyo (Argentina) between 1980-1993. The sampling was stratified and of random start, confidence interval was taken at 95% and error margin at 4%. Quanti-qualitative techniques were complemented: semistructured survey, indepth interviews, life stories and anecdote accounts. Also, tests were applied in order to observe the behavior of certain psychosocial variables (such as locus of control, stress, aggressiveness, self-esteem). Some of these tests (e.g. CEP, J.L. Pinillos, Maudsley's Inventory, J. Eysenck) have been validated in Argentina by the author. The analysis was made in two instances: products and processes. Procedure: (1) Survey of data in files over ten years old, (2) implementation of the aforementioned techniques. Being a vertical assessment, the follow-up was carried out in private homes, as graduates and drop-outs were no longer in the educational system. In the survey of both agendas (those of the media and the public), setting up of the time frame, was taken into account the models of the agenda/effect: awareness, relevance and priorities (Becker, McCombs, McLeod). Graphic media was also used (six representative national newspapers, displaying different ideologies), as well as visual media (television newsreels). The comparison procedure for both agendas and analytical strategy were original. The range of variables was very wide (151), covering psychological, base line, pedagogic/institutional, structural and communicational aspects. Finally, hypotheses and results were compared. The methodological options made it possible to analyze the psychological dimension related to the life stories and academic aptitude measurements. The effects of the intervening variables were recognized by means of discerning interpretation. The results inform: (1) hypotheses concerning social, cognitive and media psychology were corroborated, (2) it was observed that the agenda/effect is present: youths consider relevant only whatever is so for the media. The remaining information is not recovered nor is able to access the cognitive maps, and (3) a high homogenization of thought is thus confirmed, as a result of the homogenization of news (incremented in quantity by means of unified quality). Nevertheless, it is interesting to point out that the strengthening of a certain image of reality is not found equally for all, nor every time, depending on the conjugation of different factors among which education and personality act as decisive filters. Results show different interpretations and levels of filtering in accordance with self-esteem, n-ach (n-achievement), fatalism, valuations, stress, apathy, prejudices, among other variables.

Palabras clave : Media; Education; Mental maps; University.

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