Theory about powerful media effects -

Theory about powerful media effects -

Historical trends in the study of media effects: Theory and method Historical change Late 19th Century till 1940s saw a fear of powerful media effects 1940s through early 1970s was the era of limited effects From 1980s media studies splinter into a wide variety of approaches, with the

mainstream view moving toward partial and mediated effects Today? What effects on media content are people concerned about? How are you different because of the media you have used and currently use? Is it detrimental? Theory understanding why we do things,

how we do things, how humans behave Early 20th century Professionalization of advertising Development and growth of new mass media technologies The Great War England and the U.S. develop propaganda on a large scale After the war, Bernays and others claim to be

able to engineer consent Popular fears of mass manipulation Sudden and rapid growth of mass media Newspapers Periodicals Movies Radio

Social fears Growth and increasing sophistication of persuasion professions Advertising Public relations/propaganda Massive WWI propaganda output Exorbitant post-warclaims of efficacy post-war by Creel Committee members Creel

Bernays Committee on Public Information Woodrow Wilson re-elected President in 1916 Ran on a platform emphasizing He kept us out of war Within a year, was leading the country into war with Germany

Created the Committee on Public Information (CPI) on April 13, 1917 "Lead this people into war, and they'll forget there was ever such a thing as tolerance. To fight, you must be brutal and ruthless, and the spirit of ruthless brutality will enter into the very fibre of national life, infecting the Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the

street." Edward L. Bernays Freuds nephew Attempted to apply psychoanalysis to propaganda Used psychological research methods, advertising methods to manufacture consent

Tireless promoter of PR as way to control public opinion Lasswells study of propaganda Interested in the application of symbol manipulation to influence psychological unconscious Nationalism and ego-involvement Manipulation of emotions via propaganda Tried to take a distanced, uninterested position toward

propaganda Identified goals and methods of propaganda Harold D. Lasswell, Propaganda Technique in the World War (New York: Knopf, 1927). Creel Committee Emphases in their propaganda Emotional Appeals

Demonization The War to End All Wars Dishonesty "Propaganda in the broadest sense is the technique of influencing human action by the manipulation of representations. These representations may take spoken, written, pictorial or musical form."

Payne Fund Studies: The effects of movies on children Conducted in the late 20's and early 30s, series of studies occurred in two categories: 1. assess content of films and audience size and composition (Dale) 2. audience effects of themes and messages a. acquisition of information (Holaday and Stoddard) b. attitude change (R.C. Peterson and Thurstone) c. stimulating emotions (Dysinger and Ruckmick)

d. harming health (Renshaw, Miller and Marquis) e. eroding moral standards (C.C. Peters) f. influencing conduct (Shuttleworth and May, Blumer and Hauser) Payne Fund Conclusions: Movies affected the way children dressed, their expectations with regard to sex, led to fear and lost sleep.

Movies also provided some positive role models, innocent entertainment, etc. Some disconfirmation of the worst fears found in popular culture The War of the Worlds An accidental occurrence seemed to validate some of the worst fears about mass society and the power of the newest mass medium, the radio

Orson Welles Mercury Theater of the Airs broadcast of an adaptation of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds on Halloween eve, 1938 Research on the broadcast The invasion from Mars: A study in the psychology of panic (1940: Princeton University) Cantril, Gaudet, Herzog

The establishment of the limited effects paradigm End of the powerful effects model of media influence Columbia School Paul Felix Lazarsfeld emigrated from Austria to the U.S. in the 1930s. A mathematician Interested in the application of mathematics, especially the new statistics, to

study of social problems Sets up research programs at Princeton (Radio Research Bureau) and at Columbia (Bureau of Applied Social Research) that combine study of practical problems with academic methods of research Model that would be followed by the field from then on. First studies focus on audience size, reactions to and use of radio programming As well as a wide array of social concerns that were not communicationoriented

The Peoples Choice Lazarsfeld, Berelson, and Gaudet Study of the 1940 presidential election in Erie county, Ohio 20th Century--strong, commercially successful newspapers, radio, magazines, that had the ability to say what they wanted to in Western European countries The research comes from vague ideas of what is

worth studying Research Questions 1. How do people decide to vote as they do? 2. What were the major influences on them? "Social characteristics determine political

preference." Results Lazarsfeld could predict with 76% accuracy which candidate someone would vote for based on his demographics. That was better than the people themselves could predict. Prediction is taken as the criterion of validity "Cross-Pressures"

Opinion Leaders (21%) ("Have you tried to influence someone on a political issue recently?"; "Has anyone asked your advice recently on a political issue?") opinion leaders were thought to be a relatively small group of influential people Lacked evidence of actual influence Media influence Whenever a person in the sample changed his/

her vote intention, the interviewer asked why: Democrats mentioned radio most often (30% vs. 20% for newspapers) Republicans mentioned newspapers (31% vs. 17% for radio). Note time period of this study Over half the voters said the media had the most important impact, 2/3 said news media

were helpful Two-step flow Conclusion--interpersonal communication most important Those most likely to be predisposed to vote Democratic were exposed to more pro-Democratic propaganda the analogous situation was true for Republicans

Lazarsfeld decided this showed selective exposure--those who were predisposed to vote one way or another chose to expose themselves to propaganda that was positive toward the preferred party Impact of the studies The studies set the parameters of political communication research for over a decade and still influence the field now

Major studies of elections did not even ask about media for several election cycles Hovland Experiments on mass communication: Persuading the American soldier in World War II Hovland, Lumsdaine and Sheffield (1949) Studied the impact of showing Frank Capras propaganda films in Why We Fight series to American

soldiers in a training camp Many were draftees and did not want to fight Attempted to measure the effects of movies on information acquisition and modification of soldiers' interpretations and opinions, attitudes toward allies, and motivation Why We Fight Films from the series included in the study:

Prelude to War, The Nazis Strike, Divide and Conquer, The Battle of Britain Battle of Britain Men in two camps--some were exposed to a film, some not 2100 in one camp (before/after control group) 900 in another camp (before/after control group) 1200 (after-only control group)

Sampling by company units Units were matched on several demographic variables The Battle of Britain Before and after questionnaires were slightly different Tried to distract men from wondering why they were answering twice by writing revised on the questionnaire

One week between exposure and the second measure Anonymity was assured Results The movies had a significant impact on factual knowledge Ex. Why werent the Germans successful at bombing British planes on the ground?

Ans. because the British kept their planes scattered at the edge of the field Experimental group: 78% correct Control group: 21% correct 60 Results: Learning from films dependent upon education

50 40 30 Test Score 20 10 0

Grade School High School College Results Opinions and interpretations Effects were not as great

the heavy bombing attacks on Britain were an attempt by the Nazis to . . . Answer: invade and conquer England Experimental group: 58% Control group: 43% Results General attitudes Effect was slight

Do you feel that the British are doing all they can to help win the war? Experimental group 7% greater than control In many cases, only 2-3% positive difference was found Sleeper effect 9 weeks after exposure Factual material was forgotten Retained only about 50% of factual items that 1-week groups

remembered On 1/3 of opinion issues, the long-term group showed less change However, on more than half of the fifteen issues under study, the long term group showed greater change than the short-term group Yale School Hovland et al. set up Yale School of

research on persuasion Studied the effect of: Source characteristics Message characteristics Order of presentation

Psychological characteristics of audience Source characteristics Credibility Topic: Atomic submarines Sources: J. Robert Oppenheimer/Pravda Topic: Future of Movie Theaters Sources: Fortune magazine/A woman movie gossip columnist

Greater persuasion with more credible source However, after 4 weeks differences had disappeared Content Fear appeals The more fearful the message, the greater the effect on interest, tension Less fearful message had a greater effect on intension to change behavior

Fear was thought to invoke some sort of interference Channel The main study here tends to indicate that interpersonal channels are more effective at changing attitudes than are mass media channels. Personality

Personality variables such as self-esteem, anxiety and depression have an influence on persuadability. Research suggested that people with low self-esteem are likely to be relatively easily persuaded. Katz and Lazarsfeld Personal influence: The two-step flow of communication Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955)

Based on ideas originating in the "People's Choice" Concerned with the movement of information from media through interpersonal networks Decatur study of opinion leaders conducted by the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia Assessed opinion leaders role in four areas of influence:

1. marketing 2. fashion 3. public affairs 4. film choice Delineated the characteristics of opinion leaders

position in the life cycle, SES, social contacts Marketingmiddle-aged women, especially with families Fashionyounger and single women Public affairsolder and more educated Film choiceyounger and single

Klappers (1960) The Effects of Mass Communication 1. Mass communication ordinarily does not serve as a necessary and sufficient cause of audience effects, but rather functions among and through a nexus of mediating factors and influences. 2. These mediating factors are such that they

typically render mass communication a contributory agent, but not the sole cause, in a process of reinforcing the existing conditions. 3. On such occasions as mass communication does function in the service of change, one of two conditions is likely to exist. Either: a. the mediating factors will be found to be inoperative and the effect of the media will be found to be direct; or

b. the mediating factors, which normally favor reinforcement, will be found to be themselves impelling toward change. 4. There are certain residual situations in which mass communication seems to produce direct effects, or directly and of itself to serve certain psycho-physical functions.

5. The efficacy of mass communication, either as a contributory agent or as an agent of direct effect, is affected by various aspects of the media and communications themselves or of the communication situation (including, for example, aspects of textual organization, the nature of the source and medium, the existing climate of public opinion, and the like).

People just dont change their minds all that easily They have stable attitudes that flow from their socialization and experience Can predict attitudes from demographics An excellent example of this is provided by Kendall and Woolf's analysis of reactions to anti-racist cartoons. The cartoons featured Mr Biggott whose absurdly racist ideas were

intended to discredit bigotry. In fact 31% failed to recognise that Mr Biggott was racially prejudiced or that the cartoons were intended to be anti-racist (Kendall & Wolff (1949) in Curran (1990)). Selectivity

Selective exposure Selective attention Selective perception Selective interpretation Selective recall Usually tied to balance models of cognitive

psychology Especially cognitive dissonance Modern effects study In the 1970s and 1980s effects study came under powerful attack from more critical approaches, many developed in Europe British cultural studies (neo-Marxist) and popular culture studies, postmodernist philosophy, etc. criticized many of the

underlying assumptions of effects research Followed the lead within psychology away from social psychology to cognitive information processing Move away from a narrow focus on persuasion to learning, beliefs, etc. Renewed belief in media power Move toward a belief in stronger effects

Agenda setting effect Spiral of silence Social construction of reality Cognitive effects/learning

Mediation Lowered expectations for the effects Contemporary media effects Search for multiple types of effects and the impact of medium and context as well as content Interactions with multiple concepts For example, what types of appeals are most effective with elderly men with regard to influencing exercise

behavior? What forms of humor are the most enjoyable for teen girls? What are the relative influences of fantasy violence on television, movie and videogame audiences? Common methods Laboratory experiments Surveys Becoming more common:

Focus groups Depth interviews Content analyses tied to social statistics Cognitive information processing Contemporary models of learning/thinking present a series of steps in these processes Modeled after computers, information theory Patterns of stability and change have been

identified that need explanation When do similar stimuli elicit similar behaviors, different behaviors or simple inattention? CIP Steps:

Stimulation of sense organs Maintenance in sensory registers Short-term memory Working memory

Stimulation of content in long-term storage Evaluation and encoding Storage Behavioral response Our text

Diffusion of Innovations Critical Mass Theory Social Information Processing Use & Gratifications Social Leaning / Social Cognitive Theory Theory of the Long Tail

Critical & Cultural theories

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