Gerbner’s Model

Born in 1919 in Hungary, George Gerbner's childhood and youth were marked by political instability in Europe, including the First and Second World Wars. These events had a lasting impact on his perspective on society and culture. After immigrating to the United States in 1939, Gerbner continued his education and eventually became a leading scholar in the field of communication. He earned his PhD at the University of California at Berkeley and then joined the University of Pennsylvania, where he founded the Annenberg Cultural Research Project.


In addition to his work at the university, Gerbner also played an active role in professional and academic organizations, advocating for greater awareness of the effects of media on society and promoting media literacy as a tool for informed citizenship.


Cultivation Theory


Developed by George Gerbner and his research team, it is a theory that explores how prolonged exposure to media, especially television, “shapes” people's perceptions and attitudes about the world around them. The basic premise is that the amount of time a person spends watching television influences their perception of reality, shaping their beliefs, values, and attitudes in accordance with predominant media representations. Among its key components, we can point out the following:


1. Media Exposure: The theory is based on the premise that exposure to the media, especially television, is a common and habitual activity in modern life. The more time a person spends watching television, the greater their exposure to media messages and their potential influence on the perception of reality.


2. Media Messages: Transmitted through television include entertainment programs, news, advertising and other content that reflect and construct representations of reality, including images, stories and values, and influence viewers' perceptions of the world.


3. Construction of Reality: postulates that prolonged exposure to these media messages leads to a gradual construction of reality in the mind of the viewer since, as viewers repeatedly see certain themes, stereotypes and narratives in the media, they tend to internalize these representations and see them as a reflection of reality.


4. Cultural Effects: Manifest in the way viewers perceive and understand society and the world around them; this may include the adoption of attitudes, values and beliefs consistent with predominant media representations, as well as the internalization of certain stereotypes and prejudices.


5. Differential Effects: May vary depending on factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the viewers. People who spend more time watching television and who are more vulnerable to media influence may experience more pronounced effects of media cultivation.


From a methodological point of view, cultivation theory is characterized by its quantitative approach and uses empirical research methods such as content analysis, surveys, questionnaires, longitudinal studies and statistical analysis to examine the relationship between media exposure and perception of reality.


Although cultivation theory has been widely studied and discussed, it has also been the subject of criticism and controversy. Some critics argue that it oversimplifies the relationship between media exposure and perception of reality, overlooking other factors that can influence people's attitudes and beliefs.


However, despite its criticisms, cultivation theory remains relevant to understanding how the media influence the perception of the world and the formation of social attitudes. Its concepts and principles continue to be applied in fields such as communication, advertising, education and psychology, providing a theoretical basis to address the effects of the media in contemporary society.


Gerbner´s Model


In 1956, George Gerbner proposed a general model of communication, the scope of which was given because its objective was to express the communication dynamics at both the interpersonal, group and mass levels based on a transactional relationship between sender and receiver.


For this model, the process begins with an event "E" that is perceived by a preceptor "M1" (human or artificial), whose perceptual act is conditioned by biases such as: beliefs, assumptions, previous experiences, and physiological components. , etc., and generates as a result "E1", an event perceived by said preceptor, which is to be communicated by a receiver or addressee "M2", is previously transformed into "SE", a statement of the event, which intrinsically relates perception and event, to finally become a communicative event SE1, that is, a statement that represents the representation of “E”.


For this model, the communicative process is subjective, selective, variable and unpredictable, since the meaning depends on the individual perception of each person. This perception is limited and "selective" because individuals cannot grasp all the surrounding events, which focuses on the inevitable complexity, unpredictability and variability of human communication.


Relevance today


George Gerbner's work remains relevant today for several reasons:


Cultivation Theory: Continues to be a fundamental tool for understanding how the media influence the perception of the world and the formation of social attitudes. In the digital age, where media has an even greater impact on our lives, this theory provides a framework for analyzing how prolonged exposure to certain types of media content can shape people's beliefs and attitudes.


Communication Model: It remains relevant because it provides a comprehensive framework for understanding interpersonal, group and mass communication in the digital age. Recognizing individual perception biases in communication makes it easier to deal with misinformation and effectively segment messages in marketing and advertising. Furthermore, his consideration of human and artificial preceptors is especially pertinent today, with the growing influence of artificial intelligence on information mediation.


Media Literacy: He was a passionate advocate of media literacy, understood as the ability to interpret and analyze media messages critically. In the age of misinformation, media literacy is more important than ever. His work, in this sense, remains relevant to educators, activists, and citizens concerned with promoting critical understanding of the media.


It is within this framework that George Gerbner's work remains relevant today, since it provides a theoretical and critical framework to understand and analyze the role of the media in contemporary society. His ideas on media cultivation, his general communication model, content analysis, media literacy and media responsibility remain fundamental to addressing current challenges related to communication and contemporary culture.




George Gerbner was a pioneer in the study of media and media culture, whose legacy endures in contemporary research and practice. His innovative approach to content analysis and commitment to critical research remain fundamental to understanding the role of media in modern society and to addressing current communication challenges.


At a time when the media industry faces ethical challenges related to privacy, truthfulness and fairness, his ideas on the social responsibility of the media remain relevant to promote more fair and equitable communication.




Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1990). Charting the mainstream: Television's contributions to political orientations. Spain: Journal of Social Psychology, Vol. 5, No. 1.



Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1996). Growing up with television: acculturation perspective. In J. Bryant and D. Zillmann (Comps.), The effects of the media. Research and theories. Barcelona: Paidós.

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