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This study tested the hypothesis that processing strategy moderates the effect of television viewing on social perceptions (cultivation effect). One hundred twenty-two male and female students provided estimates of the prevalence of crime, occupations, affluence, and marital discord under one of three conditions. Some participants were induced to process heuristically (heuristic group) through instructions to provide their estimates spontaneously with little elaboration. Other participants were induced to process systematically (systematic group) through an accuracy motivation/task importance manipulation. A third (control) group received instructions to simply answer the questions. The results indicated that processing strategy moderated the cultivation effect such that cultivation effects were noted in the heuristic and control groups but not in the systematic group. These results are consistent with the notion that the cultivation effect can be explained in part as the result of heuristic processing through lack of source discounting, and they provide support for the heuristic processing model of cultivation effects.