Heavy television watching parallels a decline in moral values and a sense of personal responsibility, a new study by the Culture and Media Institute of the Media Research Centre has found.

In a new Special Report entitled, “The Media Assault on American Values,” released by the CMI June 6, a clear correlation was shown to exist between an increase in the number of hours a viewer spent watching TV and a decline in the strength of personal moral values. The report explored the findings of the National Cultural Values Survey, a major study of American cultural and moral values conducted in December 2006.

Among the areas affected by TV viewing habits were attitudes towards abortion, charitable giving, sexual morality, financial self-sufficiency on healthcare and retirement and church attendance.

On the issue of abortion, 44 per cent of light TV viewers (those who watch one hour or less per night, accounting for 22.5 per cent of the population) said abortion is wrong, compared to 27 per cent of heavy TV viewers (those who watch four hours or more per night, accounting for 25 per cent of the population).

While 39 per cent of light TV viewers said sex outside of marriage was always wrong, only 26 per cent of heavy viewers considered sex outside of marriage to be always wrong.

Fifty-five per cent of light viewers said homosexuality is wrong, while only 43 per cent of heavy viewers agreed. Sixty-four per cent of light viewers opposed same-sex “marriage,” compared to 57 per cent of heavy TV viewers.

While only 28 per cent of heavy viewers are frequent church-goers, 47 per cent of light viewers go to church regularly. More than half (51 per cent) of heavy viewers said they rarely or never attend church, while only 29 per cent of light viewers said they go to church “rarely or never.”

When it came to a sense of financial and social responsibility, heavy viewers were much more likely to expect the government to provide for their health and retirement needs than light viewers and they were much less likely to support charities. Sixty-four per cent of heavy TV watchers expect the government to provide for their retirement needs and 63 per cent expect health care coverage, compared to light viewers at 43 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively.

Heavy viewers were more than twice as likely not to give to charitable causes (24 per cent light viewers to 11 per cent heavy viewers) and not to volunteer (56 per cent light viewers to 27 per cent heavy viewers).

“Are the media influencing Americans to duck responsibility for their own decisions and behaviour?” CMI asked in its executive summary of the report. “By undermining core moral values, are the media leading Americans away from a mature acceptance of personal responsibility for their own lives and for their obligations to others?”

The study cited results from the Cultural Values survey that found 74 per cent of Americans believe the moral values of the country have fallen over the past 20 years and 68 per cent of respondents blame the media for contributing significantly to that decline.

The National Cultural Values Survey was conducted by the professional polling firm of Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates. The survey collected data from 2,000 adult U.S. citizens through 1,000 telephone interviews and 1,000 internet questionnaires. The margin for error is plus or minus 2.2 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence level.

This article was originally published June 6 at LifeSiteNews.com and is reprinted with permission. For the full CMI media study, check out the website www.cultureandmediainstitute.org.