Values are core beliefs or desires that guide or motivate attitudes and actions. They also define the things we prize and value and therefore provide the basis for ranking the things we want in a way that elevates some values over others. Thus our values determine how we behave, discount or in other words, sick they are the drivers of behaviour.
The Mass Media Project approach is based on the following:
Firstly, prostate in order to impact on both the positive and the negative behaviours that influence South Africa’s major social problems, there is a need to impact on the drivers of this behaviour.
In recent years, a similar approach has been adopted in the field of public health, where the focus has been to deal with the underlying determinants of disease, rather than the diseases themselves. For instance, it has been found that for every year of a woman’s education, there is a 10% drop in infant mortality. Thus, while still dealing directly with issues such as measles, polio and diarrhoea, major efforts are being made to ensure that the girl child is in school.
Similarly, when dealing with social problems including HIV&AIDS, we believe that as well as focusing on positive behaviours, we should also deal with the underlying determinants of behaviour. These we would identify as values.
Positive values such as self control, respect, trust, perseverance, integrity and selflessness all contribute to the decision to abstain from or delay sex. If, when we deal with HIV&AIDS prevention, we explicitly promote these values and create debate around them, we may then also impact on other social issues that require a similar values base – like violent crime.
Secondly, since 83% of South Africans align themselves with one of the country’s four major religions, HEARTLINES uses God as the authority base for the values. According to the 2001 census, 79.8% of South Africans described themselves as Christian, 1.5% as Muslim, 1.2% as Hindu and 0.2% as Jewish.
Thirdly, while a positive value system may not necessarily give rise to positive behaviours, it is an important starting point for these behaviours. International and local behaviour change research bears testimony to this fact.
Fourthly, an intervention that is catalysed by the mass-media is a highly effective way to promote positive values. It can also move people from belief in a positive value system to implementing positive behaviours. Local and international research shows that connection is not always direct, but that it correlates with the efficacy of the mass media to stimulate debate, impact on social norms and promote community mobilisation. These are important precursors to behaviour change.
In South Africa TV is the most powerful and pervasive medium, with at least 85% of the population having access to television.
Fifthly, in order to capitalise on a the public discourse stimulated by the mass media and its supporting materials, communities and individuals need to be mobilised.