The effects of the media on perception can distort or change peoples’ opinions on beauty, politics, and disease. For example, some people argue that the media has a much higher, sometimes unrealistic standard of beauty, which can lead viewers to have unrealistic expectations for themselves and others. Most news sources are biased in some way, which often shows in their writing when reporting political news. As for disease, studies find that infections and diseases that get a lot of media attention are usually assumed to be much worse than in reality. Experts disagree about the exact effects of the media on perception, however, and whether they are good, bad, or neutral.
Newspapers, news stations on televisions, and other media forms often employ models or purchase stock photos of models. With television news reporters in particular, appearance can be a major factor in whether a person gets the job or not. Magazines are also another form of the media, many of which employ only very slender models. Both stock photos and magazines are usually edited to look better. Even if the effects of the media on perception had none of these factors, the frequent reports on new cosmetic drugs and surgeries, celebrity lifestyles, and makeup products could lead people to focus more on beauty than they otherwise would.
The effects of the media on perception can even influence a nation’s politics. Surveys were conducted regarding how many people believed falsehoods and misconceptions spoken by United States reporters. The conclusion was that the media does indeed influence the average person's opinion and beliefs, but these findings are not proof that the media affects a person’s vote. Another study gave free politically biased newspapers to people for a period of time and measured their voting patterns against those of people who did not read political newspapers. This study found that reading left-leaning newspapers caused people to vote more democratic, as did right-leaning newspapers regarding votes for more conservative candidates.
Another effect of the media on perception is that the more often a health issue is mentioned, the more serious people assume it is. Studies show that even a single incident in the news can increase public concern. One study showed that medical students who have much more knowledge about diseases than the average person were greatly influenced by the media too. After letting study participants read about each disease or infection, many rated lesser-reported illnesses as more concerning. The general consensus is that the more informed people are of illnesses, the less afraid of them they are.