Mock Test 27.1 | Academic Reading


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 1-13, which are based on Reading Passage 1 below.


A.  In 1977, Winn argued in The Plug-in Drug that television has properties of addition. Researchers have been intrigued by this idea, but few have tried to study it systematically. Anecdotal accounts and speculation comprise most of the research on television addiction. Furthermore, similar to the alcohol and drug abuse literature, a conceptual haze between the concepts of heavy exposure, reliance, dependence, and addiction to television remains problematic. [Crack IELTS with Rob] A clear distinction needs to be made between these concepts to determine the difference between normal and problem viewing.


B.  Foss and Alexander have researched on objects that contain self-defined heavy viewers (6 hours per day) and nonviewers. They found that many nonviewers called television a drug or a religion and believed that it caused less interaction with friends and family, less time spent doing more productive or healthier things, and less critical thought. Nonviewers reported that television was simply too seductive to have around. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Heavy viewers saw addiction to television as a likely outcome, but not for themselves. For them, it was simply a means of escape and relaxation. People who avoid television tend to cite its addictive properties as the reason. Nonviewers in Australia wouldn’t watch because they couldn’t “resist its power”. They regarded it as a depressant drug that dulls the senses. Mander collected around 2,000 anecdotal responses to television that made it sound like “a machine that invades, controls and deadens the people who view it”. Common statements resulted, such as “I feel hypnotized” and “I just can’t keep my eyes off it.” In talking about their television behavior, people compared themselves to mesmerized, drugged-out, and spaced-out vegetables. Similarly, Singer asked, “why do we turn the set on almost automatically on awakening in the morning or on returning home from school or work?” Singer, though, said that addiction to television is an extreme position, and speculated that television’s magnetism can be explained by a human “orienting reflex”. That is, we are programmed to respond to new or unexpected stimuli, and because novel and sudden images are key features of television, it draws our attention. Singer said that the addictive power of television is probably to minimize problems by putting other thoughts in your mind.


C.  In an empirical search for this seemingly pervasive psychological phenomenon, Smith used popular literature to generate items for a measure of television addiction. Although the resultant scale was not directly based on the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it included some of the concepts such as loss of control, time spent using, withdrawal, attempts to quit, and guilt. Her study via mail of 491 adults living in some mountain areas found that very few of the participants identified with the concepts in her measure; [Crack IELTS with Rob] only 11 out of 491 respondents admitted television addiction, although 64% of the respondents reported that television was addictive. Smith found a strong relationship between the amount of time spent viewing and the tendency to call oneself an addict.


D.  Nothing that there have been almost no empirical studies of television addiction, McIlwraith, Jacobvitz, Kubey, and Alexander cited an earlier version of the DSM-IV to discuss a possible relationship to television viewing. Using Smith’s measure, they found that only 17 out of 136 students were self-designed addicts. They reported twice as much television viewing as non-addicts, more mind wandering, distractibility, boredom, and unfocused daydreaming, and tended to score higher on scales measuring introversion and neuroticism. [Crack IELTS with Rob] They also reported significantly more dysphoric mood watching, and watching to fill time.


E.  Also using Smith’s measure of television addiction, Anderson, Collins, Schmitt, and Jacobvitz found that, for women, stressful life events predicted television addiction-like behavior and guilt about television watching. They argued that women used television in a way that was “analogous to alcohol”, and wondered if television watching served to delay more healthy and appropriate coping strategies. Also using Smith’s measure, McIlwraith found only 10% of the 237 participants sampled while visiting a museum identified themselves as television addicts. [Crack IELTS with Rob] McIlwraith found that those who admitted addiction to television watched significantly more hours of television than others, and watched more to escape unpleasant moods and to fill time. McIlwraith’s sample echoed Smith’s. who found that participants most often responded never on all the items about television addiction.


F.  According to Smith, the phenomenon of television addiction is unsubstantiated in empirical research, but is robust in anecdotal evidence. For example, like other addictions, television watching is thought to contribute to conflict and breakdown in family relationships. One woman explained how her husband’s addiction to television contributed to their separation: “There was absolutely no way of spending an evening alone with my husband without television. He was most resentful if I stuck out for my choice of program and most resentful if I turned ut off while he slept in front of it”. [Crack IELTS with Rob] There were worse stories. Fowles related tragic newspaper accounts due to quarrels about television: “Charles Green of East Palo Alto, California stabbed his sister to death with a hunting knife after she took out the electrical fuses so he would stop viewing. In Latwell, Louisiana, John Gallien shot his sister-in-law because she kept turning down the volume”. Studies of television deprivation also indicate profound and real withdrawal-like symptoms, supporting the notion of addiction.


G.  A handful of studies have attempted to study other types of media addiction directly using APA criteria. For example, Fisher found that children could be classified as addicted to video games. The children’s pathological video game playing was based on model criteria such as frequency and duration of play, supernormal expenditures, borrowing and selling off possessions to play, and self-awareness of a problem. Phillips, Rolls, Rouse, and Griffiths studied the video game habits of 868 children, aged 11 to 16. They found that 50 could be classified as addicts. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The addicted children played nearly every day, for longer time periods than intended, often to the neglect of homework. They reported feeling better after play, and using play to avoid other things. Also based on APA criteria, a case study in the United Kingdom effectively diagnosed a young man as addicted to pinball machines. Consistent with third-person effect literature, the young man thought that he played too much, but that he was not “addicted”.


H.  Therefore, anecdotal and inferential evidence suggests that television can be extremely compelling and important in people’s lives, even beyond dependence or habit. Whether television viewing can truly be addictive is still unclear. Although men have made the comparison and some have even studied addiction based on concepts drawn from popular literature, no researchers have studied and measured television addiction based purely on DSM-IV criteria. Recently, Kubey argued that at least 5 of the 7 DSM-IV criteria are probably applicable to television viewing, but this remains to be tested. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Although he did not believe that the addiction criteria of tolerance and continued use despite problems seemed likely for television use, he did believe that all the others could clearly apply. According to Kubey, although we don’t think of television as a substance, we do take it into our minds. Although this is a fruitful area of study, “method to diagnose television dependence for some people, but addiction has not been effectively conceptualized in the communication literature. Psychiatry has provided criteria for dependence/addiction that have taken decades to develop, but communication scholars have yet to attempt to use them fully.


Questions 1 - 6

Reading Passage 1 has eight paragraphs, A-H.

Choose the most suitable heading for paragraphs, A-G, from the list of headings below.

Write appropriate numbers (i-ix) in boxes 1-6 on your answer sheet.


NB    There are more headings than paragraphs, so you will not use them all.


List of headings

i         Television and family feuds

ii        Comparisons make among heavy viewers and nonviewers

iii       Psychological expertise help to interpret television addiction

iv       Television addiction being proved by tragedies

v        Resist the power of television addiction

vi       Children receive less affection

vii      Similarities between using television and alcohol

viii     Findings from the campus

ix       Conception of television addiction being proposed

x        Empirical search for DSM-IV

xi       Using methods from television addiction studies on other platforms


  • 1.  Paragraph A

  • 2.  Paragraph B

  • 3.  Paragraph D

  • 4.  Paragraph E

  • 5.  Paragraph F

  • 6.  Paragraph G


Questions 7 - 13

Use the information in the passage to match people (listed A-W) with opinions below)

Write the appropriate letter, A-W, in boxes 7-13 on your answer sheet.


NB     Some people may match more than one discovery.


List of persons

A       Anderson

L       Alexander

F       Fowles

I        Fisher

K       Kubey

M      Mander

S       Smith

W      Winn


  • 7.  found television addiction over two years ago.

  • 8.  found audiences would get hypnotized from viewing too much television.

  • 9.  found there are certain relationships among television and other media.

  • 10.  found that most people did not answer all the questions about television addiction.

  • 11.  found that previous studies remain limited.

  • 12.  related dreadful incidents due to television addiction.

  • 13.  found females may be more likely to feel guilty when watching TV.

Result: / Exit

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