Perceived Realism

Alice Hall

in Communication

ISBN: 9780199756841
Published online April 2012 | | DOI:
Perceived Realism

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Perceived realism has been conceptualized in a variety of ways within the mass communication literature. In general, audiences are thought to perceive media content as realistic if they judge it to be like real life in some meaningful way or if they respond to it as though it were real. Although these perceptions are informed by attributes of the content, such as its style or apparent genre, they are not entirely determined by them. Audiences vary in their perceptions of the same material. Within the literature, conceptualizations of realism perceptions differ both in terms of the criteria used to evaluate realism and in the point in the interpretive process when the judgment is made. Common forms of perceived realism include factual realism (whether what is portrayed really happened), social realism (whether what is portrayed is like what one would expect to find in the real world), and narrative realism or narrative coherence (whether the events within a story are well explained and consistent). Furthermore, audiences may begin interpreting a specific media text with an initial understanding of its realism level that has been determined by its format or ostensible genre, make “online” judgments of realism as they read or view the content, or come to retrospective, memory-based judgments. How media realism is perceived has been found to relate to the age of the audience members, their motives, and their beliefs regarding the material’s genre. Communication researchers are often interested in media realism, because they see it as a potential contributor to media effects. However, the research findings are inconsistent. This suggests that although there are situations in which perceived realism can be consequential, its effects are not uniform and are likely to be subtle and indirect.

Article.  8108 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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