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How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through Media Influence Hardcover – September 3, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0195372083 ISBN-10: 0195372085 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195372085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195372083
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 0.9 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Professor Karen Dill has done a remarkable job in presenting the scientific facts about the huge (often harmful, sometimes helpful) impact that TV, films, video games, and music have on us all, and she has done so in a way that is engaging and easy to understand. Two additional aspects of this book are of particular importance: her science-based explanations of why most people believe that they are not influenced; and her recommendations for how people can take control of the media in their lives rather than continuing to be controlled by the media industries. In my view, this is a 'must read' for anyone who is concerned about the healthy development of children and the future of modern society."--Craig A. Anderson, Distinguished Professor of Psychology; Director, Center for the Study of Violence; Iowa State University

"[Dill] takes complex psychological constructs and explains them in an entertaining, conversational style. For parents and older children, she offers an engaging and accessible discussion of the subtle ways that the pervasive presence of media affects us all...[Dill] provides a comprehensive, yet comprehensible walk through the world of media effects research... Dr. Dill's message focuses not only on the negative side of media, but also on how to create a positive and balanced media diet, especially for children. Media literacy is one part of the solution, and Dr. Dill's concluding message is that we all need to take more control of our media diet."--Jeanne Brockmyer, Distinguished University Professor of Psychology, University of Toledo

"Media, in all their evolving forms, have become the default activities for the 21st century. Dr. Karen Dill's excellent book explains the tremendous impact media have and what we can do. She translates solid science into a highly understandable, readable and enjoyable book."--David Walsh, Ph.D. President, National Institute on Media and the Family

"Finally, an engaging and interesting book college students enjoy reading about the pervasive effects of the media." --Brad J. Bushman, Ph.D. Professor of Communication Studies and Psychology, University of Michigan

"...a triumph, an eminently accessible yet thoroughly substantive volume on a topic of great relevance to all."--Sex Roles: A Journal of Research

About the Author

Karen E. Dill is a social psychologist who has given expert testimony before the United States Congress, lectured internationally as a media psychology expert, and has been interviewed by news outlets worldwide, including the BBC, Time Magazine, USA Today, and Japan's national network, NHK. She is Director of the Media Psychology Doctoral Program and Faculty, Media Psychology, School of Psychology, Fielding Graduate University.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
It is very readable.
Zack Zoroaster
It provided great discussion and our own insights into the world of media, including the video games our grandchildren live with.
Christie J. Loftus
You really need to stay on top of things in today's world.
Joanie O.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By The Pen on October 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Karen Dill's new book will capture readers from the first pages when she introduces what she calls "Media Manipulation Denial Syndrome." She coins this phrase based on three facts: "Fact 1: We spend most of our waking hours watching media. Fact 2: Research shows clearly that media are powerful and affect us in many ways. Fact 3: Many of us passionately disbelieve Fact 2."

Dill attributes our personal media diet in part to free choice and part to a Borg-like assimilation where "resistance is futile." Media exert a powerful influence whose purpose is to lure us into their productions and engage us at an emotional level. The positive or negative consequences depend a great deal on the choices we make about our personal media diet.

Dill offers numerous examples of how various products produce such consequences. She'll lead you through the basics of media and social construction, what it means to live and grow up in a media-saturated world, how violent media produce lasting effects, issues of race and gender portrayal, advertising and consumerism, media in politics, and how to take control of our personal media consumption.

While this text presents a great deal of scientific research that will teach you about basic psychology, it is also a relaxing read for anyone interested in media influence from video games to television. Dill's conversational style will allow you to see yourself in her examples and will soon have you scratching your head about why you make certain choices. You may be moved to both laughter and tears as you discover the truth of how we are influenced in very profound ways. If you heed her advice, you may find yourself playing a more vital role in your own life and the lives of those within your personal circle of influence. Don't miss it. Awareness is power!
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By SJE on June 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book was insightful and filled with stories and anecdotes that made the subject especially relevant. This book is a great primer on the need for media literacy.
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Format: Hardcover
For those who desire to be more aware and contemplative about the media they consume-- whether via television or the Internet, regarding politics or pop culture, on the computer or a video game console-- read this lucidly written book. Dill takes us on an informative and often humorous ride through this investigation of how powerful an influence the media can have on our perceptions of reality. The reality, truly, is that many of "our" thoughts are not truly our own, but rather implanted and shaped by the media. Dill references, in an accessible and colloquial manner, many studies to support this hypothesis. For example, subjects who viewed images of stereotypical African-American video game characters were shown to rate an African-American political candidate more poorly than those who saw images of positive figures like Obama or MLK (Dill's own study). Especially interesting was her analysis of the skewed way in which video games portray the genders and different races-- the occupations they typically hold, or how they typically look, etc. For example, 75% of Asian men were martial artists, compared to 6% of white and 5% of AA men.

Read this book, and I guarantee that you won't be able to "leave your brain at the door" any more when you go to the theatre! (And that's a good thing, I suspect.)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KL on June 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In her thoughtful and lively book, social psychologist Karen Dill deftly moves beyond the question of whether or not our use of screen media affects us. That debate, she confirms, is essentially over: it does. The more interesting question she asks is why we are so quick to deny such influence. As Dill argues, such denial renders us even more vulnerable to "media effects." Her task is to help us understand how our media use affects us (without our realizing it), so that we can begin to participate more proactively in the evolution of its form and content, and live healthier lives.

Using tools of social psychology, Dill examines how media producers provide eye-catching images and emotion-wringing scripts that stir our primal desires for food, sex, and social belonging. They attract our attention by shocking our sensory selves. We are soon addicted to the charge.

What is particularly helpful about this book is Dill's explanation of how the form and content of today's screen media--and she examines television shows, movies, rap music, music videos, video games, advertising, and political coverage--play right into our strengths as the socially-wired creatures we humans are.

Face to face with desire-grabbing images and sense-assaulting scripts, we cannot help comparing ourselves to what we see. We cannot help imitating at a neuro-chemical level the actions that we see. Nor can we help repeating stereotypes about race and gender, or absorbing the persistent, implicit message of many video games, rap songs, and popular films that violence is an acceptable and useful response to life's conflicts.

In short it is our nature as social creatures to learn from what we see about what is real, what matters, how we should act, and where we should, or do not, fit in.
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