The Michigan Daily-Friday, February 5, 1988-Page 5
Titles women choose
convey different images
Doily Photo by JOHN MUNSON
Televisions at Fretter Appliance on Washtenaw are tuned to ABC's "World News Tonight" with Peter Jen-
nings. A recent study found that broadcast news can have a profound impact on viewers' political opinions,
TV news paints harmfully
unrealistic image, study says
By DAYNA LYNN
A rose by any other name might
smell as sweet -- but whether the
title Ms. precedes a woman's name
might make her more fragrant to
potential employers, a recently
published study by a University of
Toronto psychology professor found.
In his 1983 study, Dr. Kenneth
Dion gave male and female college
students one of three different
descriptions of a fictitious 29 year-
old, full-time working woman. The
descriptions were identical except
that some indicated that the woman
preferred the title Ms. and others said
that she preferred Miss or Mrs.
B A S E D upon t h e s e
descriptions, students were asked to
choose from a list of traits which
they thought applied to the woman.
Results showed that women who
preferred the title Ms. were perceived
as more "achievement-motivated and
more assertive, but also colder
socially than than her more
traditional counterparts," Dion said.
He said although warmth is
valued in the business world,
competence is considered more
DEBORAH Orr May, director
of the Career Planning and
Placement office, said that
experience has lead her to believe the
study. "To be able to achieve the
objectives of the job" is essential to
success in the business world,
regardless of whether the employee
is warm or not, she said.
May found this study "interesting
but not really surprising."
In general, she said, the title Miss
conveys the idea of a "young,
ingenue type," but not necessarily
someone capable of performing a
job. On the other hand, Mrs. carries
matronly connotations, that the
woman's priorities center primarily
around her family, she said.
DION also stressed that women
have an advantage over men, who are
restricted to the title Mr., because
women can create different images
The study showed that in
situations where the woman wants
to convey a "high-powered business
attitude," she might find it beneficial
to use the title Ms.. But in social
settings where warmth is valued
more, the woman may perceived as
friendlier if she chooses to use a
traditional title like Miss or Mrs.
Women's Studies Teaching
Assistant Sharon Holland said that
using the title Ms. helps restore
women's equality with the male sex.
USING such a title "gets rid of
preconceived notions" about the
woman, and eliminates any bias
related to her marital status - she is
equal to men who use the title Mr.
whether married or not, Holland said.
When entering the working
world, female students should
therefore "think about it and make a
deliberate choice" of which title will
best convey the image they want to
promote, May added.
Lisa Fitzpatrick, LSA senior, said
she will use the title Ms. after
graduation "because Miss or Mrs.
would describe whether I was married
or not, and its nobody's business."
Fitzpatrick said she wasn't worried
about the possibility that some male
employers might be turned off by
the title, because "I probably
wouldn't want to work for them
But some women still prefer the
traditional title Miss. Jenett
McLaurin, a graduate student in the
School of Library Science, said she
does so because "marital status is
not an issue" in the business world.
"Most everyone, certainly the
employer, already knows if you're
married or not."
UM News in
By MICAH SCHMIT
with wire reports
Politicians and government
officials have been saying for years
that television news has a profound
effect upon public opinion.
According to a new University
study, they now have proof.
The study, by researchers at the
University of Michigan and at the
University of California-Los
Angeles, examined the effects subtly
altered news broadcasts had on 1,000
viewers at Michigan and Yale
universities. The study took place
between 1980 and 1986.
ONE OF the study's goals was
to raise consciousness in both
viewers and broadcasters as to how
powerful television's influence is,
said Donald Kinder, a University
political science and psychology
Kinder and Shanto Iyengar, a
political science professor at UCLA,
published their findings in a newly
released book titled "News that
Rather than merely settling on
spoonfed press releases, reporters and
newscasters should try to b e
adversarially aggressive and
genuinely objective, said Iyengar.
THE FIRST set of studies
looked at how the news sets political
.,agenda for. viewers, including
politicians, by highlighting certain
issues and ignoring others. "For
instance, in one experiment, viewers
saw four defense-oriented news sto-
ries edited into a week of
325 E. 'Liberty
broadcasts," said Kinder.
By the end of the week, defense
had moved from the sixth to the
second most-important issue among
the viewers. Priorities of a control
group who saw no defense stories
The study showed that people
who were deeply engaged in political
life were the least affected by agenda-
setting because their priorities were
relatively firmly established.
HOWEVER, the findings
indicated that the more news
coverage a particular issue received,
the greater the agenda-setting effect it
had upon viewers. In contrast, the
study said that "priming" affects
everyone who watches TV news.
The study said that TV news
primes us to evaluate the
government's performance -
especially the President's - based
on issues the newscasters have
stressed as important. For example,
when newscasters emphasize judicial
appointments, we tend to judge the
President by his stand on that issue,
forgetting about the economy, taxes,
or arms control.
Members of the Detroit broadcast
media refused to directly comment
on the study.
IYENGAR says that television
news should devote less time to the
President and more time to other
individuals and branches of
government who, more accurately,
bear responsibility for what is
He adds that Britain appears to
exemplify this kind of independent
journalism more closely
"We found that viewers, who saw
newscasts emphasizing a particular
issue but downplaying the role of
the President, were convinced that
the issue was important but were not
likely to evaluate the President on
that issue alone. They were
realistic," the researchers say..
Some political figures may have
been devastated by the priming
effect. A three-day barrage of news
stories on the Iran hostage crisis just
before the 1980 presidential election
primed voters to vote against
President Carter, the researchers said.
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