Television Viewing and Self-Perceived Health, Weight, and Physical Fitness: Evidence for the Cultivation Hypothesis1


  • 1

    This research program was supported by grants from the Alcohol Beverages Medical Research Foundation to Stanley W. Sadava. The writing of this paper was also supported by a grant from the National Health Research Development Program branch of Health Canada to Stanley W. Sadava and Nancy DeCourville. The authors wish to thank Stephen Moston and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on a previous draft of this paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Don McCreary, Clinical Research and Development Program, Regina Health District, Regina, Saskatchewan S4S OA5, Canada, e-mail:


Television (TV) often depicts a version of the world that differs from social reality in several ways. The present study examined the relationship between the amount of TV people watch, how important TV is for their entertainment and information-gathering purposes, and their perceptions of their health, weight, and physical fitness. Regression analyses showed that, after controlling for their actual level of obesity, health perceptions were negatively related to both the amount of time spent watching TV and TV's perceived importance as an entertainment medium, but for women only. In addition, those who watched a lot of TV tended to see themselves as more overweight than did those who watched less TV. The implications of these findings for the cultivation hypothesis, as well as issues of replication, were discussed.