Contemporary Problems of Social Work


INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH QUALITY OF LIFE AND REHABILITATION TECHNOLOGIES.

The influence of the media on the conception of fear emotions and the formation of representations about dangerous situations as a modern perception phenomenon.

Автор/Author: Lykov S.V., Kuzmin V.V.

Аннотация/Annotation:
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Содержание статьи/Article:

People are constantly at risk in modern life. This can be not only a situation in which

something is endanger the person’s life security, but also it can be a fear to take a dangerous

decision that could affect person’s entire life. It is necessary to turn attention to the term

which is inextricably connected with the concept of “danger”. It is essential to consider what

the «security» is.

Analysis of scientific literature conduce the view that even at the initial stage of human

existence there were different views on the danger’s problem nature. Representations

of the content and structure of public danger and security took various changes in the

development of both society and the scientific knowledge. According to our reckoning this

ambiguity may be related to the scientific world view that currently prevails in the society.

The scientific world view is a formation of schemas about the structure of our reality and

consequently how this reality obeys to the laws. These schemas have a philosophical and

psychological nature.

The danger is constantly accompanied by fear emotions and it is an important object of study

in the modern world.

In the first instance this is facilitated by the current economic and political situation in

the world, the mood that prevails in society and in a less degree - cultural coverage of specific

events in the media[11].

Fear is a nonsocial condition caused by a real or imaginary danger, and it is a protective

response of the human individual in the outside world[9, c.412].

Fear represents the emotions that arise in situations of social or biological danger in the

psychological science and it, in turn, is focused on the source of a real or imaginary danger[20].

Fear belongs to the category of basic emotions. If we consider its motivation, we can say that

it is a conditioned reflex, since it contains modified emotional information about any possible

danger. The feeling of fear appears beyond volition that is, involuntarily, accompanied by a

strong sense of excitement, horror or anxiety[8, p.69].

Fritz Riemann said that fear exists regardless of our culture and the developmental level of

society and its individual members. He believed that the only thing that varies in this case is

the objects of our fear. Currently, humanity is not afraid of thunder and lightning, referring to

them as to the obvious phenomena of nature, but cannot make away with the feeling of fear.

Up to date the person fears the danger of various diseases, accidents, old age or to end up his

life alone.

We should take a look more closely at fear of old age, as social representations of old age often

interfere with the person’s normal functioning. Social pressure generates social desirability.

According to the modern researches women are much more concerned about their appearance

than age status in contradistinction from men.

Women often associate with young appearance not only professional success, but also

personal life satisfaction[2, p. 216]. Likewise researches show that the majority of women who

reach after anti-aging procedures have age at about 10-15 years younger than chronological

(passport) age and biological age is lower than chronological age. Women up to 30 years reach

after improving their appearance for the following reasons:

1. to make other people like them,

2. to change the way of life and get away from the old problems,

3. to find the perfect match,

4. to hold the partner.

Women aged 31-60 years want to look better than their peers. The peculiarity of this age

group is based: personal, family and professional problems depend on the “apparent age”[2, p.

216] Thus, an external social motivation creates a need to change the appearance and to use

some anti-aging treatments[2, p. 217]. However, women who gave birth in the later age (40-43

years) have another rejuvenation motive and it is “dissatisfaction with the appearance that

does not match the image of a young mother.” Herewith their psychological age was about

7-8 years younger than chronological, and these women were successful in the social and

professional sphere[2, p. 217].

Based on these data, the authors formulated the classification of patients with the need for

facial rejuvenation:

1. Crisis Group: psychological age is 5-10 years less than chronological age. The facial

rejuvenation and the need for quick results is an effect of the strong motivation that stipulates

by the society.

2. Critical group: psychological age is 5-10 years less than chronological age. The level of

social motivation for rejuvenation is moderate. Women don’t deny the possibility of the plastic

surgery, but satisfied with the beauty treatments.

3. Clinical Group: biological and chronological age are equal or biological age is 2 years

over chronological age. Upon that, the psychological age is 10 years less than chronological

age or over it more than 10 years. In these patients there is an acute dissatisfaction with their

appearance, social anxiety disorder, so they are ready for the rejuvenation surgery[2, p. 214].

It should also be noted that there are no rules in this classification. Perhaps this is related

to the fear of ageing. Old age is apperceived as a “reduction of the future”, and that its main

feature equally affects men and women. However, men imagine their old age as a slow and

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CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS OF SOCIAL WORK VOLUME 1, No. 2, 2015

unsaturated one, and women do not give clear answers about it. Subjects with the level of locus

of control above the norm are more susceptible to the influence of stereotypes of old age[19]

They see old age as a reduction of life. This creates a mindset of “reducing life”. At the same

time, there is a tendency of gerontophobia mindsets in the society; old age lost its authority

and the compulsory acquisition between generations[18].

Modern man is constantly afraid of leaking the time and this is just one side of the problem.

But at the same it is important to consider fears and social representations about the fears

in the time perspective. In this paper we consider the fear in terms of “future events which

are not certain because of specific time.” It is important to consider the human response to

anticipation (expectation) of the frightening object, time of which is defined.

Therewith it is also important to consider the “fears of the past” that could cause harm in

the past, but due to the changed situation, the danger stops to be relevant, but the “fears of the

past”, often supported by the representations, remain relevant.

Currently, instead of sacrifices, magical rites people trying to cover their own fear with

tablets and other attributes of modern life which also explained from the perspective of the

psychology of time. In ancient times a man by means of the ritualization and deification sought

harmony between the outer and inner body, which required a long time. Today, there are more

modern techniques to achieve the desired goal (medicine, psychology), but they require timeconsuming.

This causes a person to risk the health’s integrity in favor of quick cure symptoms.

However, our historical development has given rise to a new fear, the fear when our lives

changed against our will. People began to fear the natural balance. In other words formerly

mankind was afraid of nature because of insecurity in front of it, but now we begin to fear for

ourselves; it is fear that we can radically change the world for the worse. Riemann suggested

that fear always complements a person that crosses familiar borders, demanding to cross the

river from the old to the new and unknown[13]

Currently the study of fear emotions transformation, which includes danger situations, is

under a large base and the foundation of this base is a tense social, economic and political

atmosphere in the world.

Fear naturally accomplishes a protection function. An absence or simply incomplete

information awareness about any exciting event or a dangerous situation can lead to a

dangerous event. Due to lack of information a person is able to get into a situation that could be

interpreted as critical and the one, that carry a threat to human’s life. The discrepancy between

the reality and the available information is described in the theory of cognitive dissonance[16].

However, there is an inverse mechanism when a person tries to anticipate dangerous

situation. These actions can engender and develop the emotion of fear. For example, the child

gets a bad mark in school and knows that his parents will punish him. In such a situation the

child feels natural fear of possible punishment.

The unconscious element of the human psyche is also involved in the formation of fear.

A person affected by fear will be completely sure that it was working external stimulus, not

something more profound and personal[14].

Given the characteristics of flow disturbing information in the media, the mechanism of

occurrence of fear is clearly demonstrated in the theory of the origin of emotions named ABC

model by A. Ellis[22].

On the basis of this model we can see that the conception and emotion may depend not only

on our knowledge, but on our ideas, mindsets and social representations.

The danger representation is individual for each person, but the influence of the media,

random conversations about exciting events or simply rumours can influence on the holistic

way of threat perception[15].

Due to the specific construction of social representations there is a specific mechanism

that Moscovici called “figurative representation scheme.” The essence of this mechanism

is that it helps to focus on a specific human reaction, often simplifying the process of

perception[23].

Thus, the information supplied to the media (as well as the purpose for which it was prepared

and key points that has been deliberately left out of focus) is able to create and direct the fear

of man in a certain way, tying it to specific objects and events and these direct and form the

human cogitation in a certain way.

In order to understanding the mechanism of human cogitation in a dangerous situation, it

is necessary to consider such a phenomenon as “stress”, as it is inextricably connected with a

common mechanism of human behavior in a dangerous situation.

Given the fact that when a person is in danger he is in a nervous tension, called stress, we

must conclude that a man is looking for a way out of the state of tension.

Unlike other animalities, a person responds not just to the situation of danger, but also on

the possibility of occurrence of one of them. As the result there may be only one remembrancer

of the possible events and it will cause a much stronger reaction than it could be in reality. A

person becomes a lot more clanked because of long waiting for a disaster than he could be when

he encounters with the problem situation.

It should be noted that prolonged or repeated stress can lead a person to the changing of

the character, which will evoke entirely new personality traits. The predominance of negative

emotional states that may prevail in the person may be prerequisites to the stress development.

Therefore it is necessary to bring into focus once again the importance of the man’s subjective

attitude to the image of danger and his expectations in specific situations. Y.V. Shcherbatyh

wrote in his work that “If you have certain prerequisites, all the changes mentioned above

outstep the psychological norms and acquire the features of psychopathology, which are often

manifested in the form of various neuroses.”[21, p.26]

Study of psychological reactions to stress coping behavior engaged in psychology. It

becomes especially important in today’s world because of the general social instability in all

levels of public machine. That is why the defense formation mechanisms and coping styles are

important for understanding the nature of human behavior in complex situations. From this

it is clear that the more we know about these mechanisms, the less people will depend on the

negative social stereotypes, life scenarios and failures of past experience, the more we will

become successful with life’s crises[13].

The most widely known the following definitions of coping, “the desire to solve the problems,

which takes the individual, if the requirements are essential to its well-being (as in situations

of great danger, and in a situation designed to great success), as these requirements activate

the adaptive capacity.”[12]

T. L. Kryukova defines coping as “a thing that allows the subject to cope with stress or difficult

life situation with the help of conscious action in ways appropriate personal characteristics and

situation.”[14]

If we talk about the coping study in the national psychology, it is worth noting that the L.I.

Antsyferova tried to give her own classification of coping behavior[21]:

1. Converting strategies that lie in the fact that decisions are made with the positive changes

of the difficult situation, which is formed as a kind of a problem with the method of achieving

the goal.

2. Methods of accommodation that are to change their own performance in relation to a

particular situation. A neutral or positive sense of the situation is a good example.

3. Supporting self-preservation techniques, such as a psychological care or an escape

behavior.

There was a study conducted for a more complete understanding of the impact of social

representations on human’s life, which examined the relationship of the image of danger and

coping behavior. At this stage the study involved 30 people, including 10 men and 20 women.

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CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS OF SOCIAL WORK VOLUME 1, No. 2, 2015

Age of the subjects ranged from 20 to 25 years, all of them were students of the Russian State

Social University.

For socio-psychological study were chosen following methods:

1. The index of lifestyle, authored by Kellerman-Plutchek,[4] adapted by E.S.Romanova

and L.R. Grebinnkov. This technique consists of 97 questions and 8 scales:

a. Denial. Psychological defense mechanism by which a person denies some frustrating,

disturbing circumstances or any internal impulse. Mechanism, as a rule, is that the person does

not pay attention to the things that are obvious to others, but which, in turn, are not recognized

by the man himself.

b. Repression. The mechanism by which unacceptable for a person actions, thoughts or

feelings become unconscious. However, even if a man does not take such pulses, they continue

to operate at an unconscious level.

c. Regression. The person’s transition on the earlier stages of development in the desire

to avoid any trouble or situation.

d. Compensation. Trying to find the expected replacement of real or imagined lack by

giving it new features and properties with the help of imagination, or the appropriation of these

properties to another person.

e. Extrajection. Localization of feelings and thoughts on other objects, attributing them

to these properties.

f. Substitution. Course of action, thoughts or feelings to another object that usually

doesn’t constitute a danger or simply is more accessible to man.

g. Intellectualization. An attempt to delete or to stop frustrating or negative feelings

and thoughts through logical units, even if convincing evidence are contrary.

h. Reactive education. Preventing expression of unpleasant or unacceptable for a person

thoughts, feelings or actions by an exaggerated development of the opposite aspirations.

2. The method of measuring the level of anxiety by John Taylor[6]. This technique

consists of 60 statements and three evaluation criteria: low, normal and high levels of anxiety.

3. Projective techniques Hand Test[7] (B. Brayklin Z.Piotrowski, E.Wagner) adapted by

T.N. Kurbatova, O.I.Mulyar (2001). The technique consists of 10 stimulus material cards. The

10th card is empty. In the Test Hand there are 11 scales:

a. Aggression (a). This scale shows a manifestation of aggression in human behavior and

unwillingness to adapt to reality

b. Direction (d). As well as aggression, responses on this scale indicate a reluctance to

show “flexibility” in society.

c. Fear (f). Indicates the presence of man’s fear of the world around him, the desire to

adapt to events.

d. Affection (e). These responses reflect the willingness to cooperate with others, of

empathy and a desire for it.

e. Communication (c). The scale shows the overall level of communication, the desire to

establish social contacts and commitment to them.

f. Dependence (d). Reflects the need of the person in front of other people. People with a

high on this scale feel that others should pay maximum attention to him and take care of it that

can speak about social irresponsibility and unwillingness to make decisions for their own lives.

g. Exhibition (e). Indicators suggest a desire to be the center of attention, show the

estimated coefficient hysteroid personality.

h. Disorder (d). Shows the fear of man in front of his own shortcomings or anxious

personality. They also may represent existing physical defects of the test.

i. Active impersonality (ai). Show the general impersonality of the test, identifying

himself with the rest of the society. Cannot speak of a developed personality and desire to

satisfy a physical need.

j. Passive impersonality (pi). As an active impersonality says unwillingness to do

anything or have an interest in the world around.

k. Description (d). Shows a tendency to thinking, judgment and experience rather than

action. Usually found in schizoid type people.

4. Author’s feedback form that help to identify the representations of the danger, which

includes a list of 28 dangerous statements that subjects attributed the rank of 10 to 1. It

includes four components of risk identified in the Lavrova-Calafate research:

a. Physical danger, which manifests itself in situations of natural and man-made accidents

b. Social danger, which is expressed in the interaction with other people

c. Existential danger is an ignorance of oneself or making decisions

d. Surreal or mystical danger

The correlation between social representations about the dangers and coping mechanisms

of behavior according to the type of substitution (0.318 at p ≤ 0.05) was established while

processing the results on the program SPSS for correlations on T-Pearson. This interrelation

suggests that the fear of the risks associated with the society is proportional to the substitution,

as a method of coping with dangerous situations. Thus, it appears that the higher one of these

components, the higher another.

The correlation between social representations about the dangers and the general level of

anxiety (0.328 at p ≤ 0.05) was established. From this it follows that the higher the anxiety of

a person, the more he is afraid of the situation relating on the society or its individual members.

The representation of a mystical danger category correlates with the level of anxiety of the

person (0.272 at p ≤ 0.05). Positive correlation indicates mutual feedback. That is, the higher

one of the components, the higher another.

A person’s willingness to take risks is directly correlated with the coping behavior as

suppression (0.426 p ≤ 0.01). A positive correlation indicates a direct connection between

mutual care events in the unconscious and the willingness to take risks.

Anxiety correlated with the denial (0.464 p ≤ 0.01). Denial of any circumstances has a direct

connection with the general anxiety of the person, for example, the higher the anxiety of a

person, the higher the denial of traumatic events.

Also, anxiety correlates with regression (0.497 p ≤ 0.01). A positive correlation indicates

a direct connection between these components. Thus, high anxiety of a person shows the

probability of a transition person to earlier stages of development.

It has been found that the anxiety is interconnected with the substitution (0.325 p ≤ 0.01).

A positive correlation may indicate that the less a person directs his feelings on the other object,

the lower anxiety or this “line” is high on both counts.

There were established some differences in the available samples using comparative analysis

in SPSS program for U - Mann-Whitney test.

Men are less likely to compensate for the type of coping behavior than women, as evidenced

by our results (4.42 versus 9.81 at p ≤ 0.05). As well, women are more prone to substitution than

men (4.83 versus 8.50 at p ≤ 0.05).

Thus it happened that men on the severity of the prevailing view of the danger, has been

chosen as follows:

1. Social danger

2. Physical danger

3. Mystical danger

4. The existential danger

Women were as follows:

1. Physical danger

2. Social danger

3. Mystical danger

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CONTEMPORARY PROBLEMS OF SOCIAL WORK VOLUME 1, No. 2, 2015

4. The existential danger

As well we have calculated averages for each scale presented in the earlier tests. Based on

the data, we can say that the willingness to take risks is more typical for men, and the highest

anxiety is shown in women.

The value of social representations that can be passed on from generation to generation

is also an important segment of our work, as it was found that the protective mechanism of

representations help to ignore the problems incurred by the society in favor of its liners. Given

that social representations can be viewed as a way of perception of any phenomenon, it can be

concluded that the social representations about the dangers can be the image of the danger.

Next, we conducted a psychological research in which there was the interconnection

established between social representations about the danger and gender, coping behavior, risk

appetite, anxiety and personality.

These results clearly demonstrate the influence of social representations about the dangers

to a human life. A person has his own individual fears and attitudes prevailing in society are

able to form ideas and simulate human behavior. The stronger the force conditions on any

phenomenon, the stronger will be expressed social fear. The more there will be fragmented,

inaccurate information, the more it will affect humanity.

Insufficiently informative, with which highlights some of the problems and their complete

disregard able to lead not only to a lack of awareness and forming their awareness into negative

stereotypes, but also to complete unwillingness to raise the affected subject. Such stereotyping

can completely simplify the mechanism of information perception, reducing it to the most

convenient and easy information layer, put in mind of a person[23]. However, its convenient

way not implies objectivity of the received information.

Clarification of the ontological sense of the phenomenon of danger required the use of

philosophical, artistic and journalistic contexts created by thinkers of the existential direction.

In the philosophers’ writings danger is shown as the cause of intense experiences of not-being,

as a kind of a border situation. At the same time outside the philosophical understanding of

conditionality remains the danger in the sense that it provoked, intruding into the living space

of the subject.

In the context of studies conducted by psychologists, the danger is not only a situation

of extreme character, but also as a factor in the activation of the reserves of the human body,

including deep, archetypal layers of the psyche[5].

Social representations about the dangers are able to predict and shape the mood in society.

Being a well-studied they are able to help in reducing anxiety of the society. However, until now

there is a highlighting information problem in the media, as this social unit is able dramatically

escalate the situation as well as to reduce to zero people’s interest that in the future in any case

affect the formation of attitudes, and in the investigation, and to a person’s specific behavior

and humanity as a whole.

Ключевые слова/Tags1: fear, social representations, mindset, mechanism, coping behavior, stress, representations of time, representations of old age, old age, time.