LIMITED MEDIA EFFECT THEORY • Media are no longer the tool of manipulation and oppression or fear. Only few people are open to psychological manipulation of media. Media are relatively powerless in shaping public opinion due to individual and group differences among people. • The study of Paul Lazarsfeld claims that media effect is limited or minimal in changing or shaping people’s thoughts, attitudes and actions. • Carl Hovland study indicated that, in parallel with Lazarsfeld, even in laboratory atmosphere media influence is found limited. Media may affect our lives if we allow them to do. • Lazarsfeld and Hovland who are methodologists rather than theorists work on objective empirical media effect measurement methods. • They both worked on how methodology in social sciences and humanities can be implemented to media studies. • Between 1940s and 50s they both conducted researches in laboratories over thousands of people. • They actually were testing the common assumption that gives media very powerful role in shaping people’s opinion. They demonstrate that education and social status are more influent over people. The Two-Step Flow of Information • Lazarsfeld believed that social theory must be strongly based on empirical facts. • Lazarsfeld conducted a survey in Ohio between May and November in 1940, before presidential elections. Reached 3000 people and made groups based on the changes of decisions of voters such as early deciders (53%), waverers (15%), converts (8%) and crystallizers (28%). • Waverers and converts were media users but they did not say they were influenced by media but the people. They made their choice in line with their political opinion rather than with the influence of media messages. Media helped with existing party loyalties. • Lazarsfeld divided those voters according to their media use into three: -Gate Keepers: people who screen media messages and pass on those messages that help others share their views. -Opinion Leaders: those who pass on information to opinion followers. -Opinion followers: those who receive information from opinion leaders. • Two-step flow theory is the idea that messages pass from the media, through opinion leaders to opinion followers. Info flows horizontal way. Lazarsfeld’s methods limitations -Survey in fact cannot measure the media consumption patterns on a daily basis. The measurement of media effects is based on what and how people report it. -It is quite expensive survey and it ignores media content and studies the way of overall using media rather than the effect of certain news stories or specific TV programs. -Overall pattern of media use tend to be strongly associated with social and demographic variables like age, sex, social status and education. -recent research on two step flow model found out contradictory results. -They cannot be used for studying over time. -The period of the research might have been very critical. Limited Effects Theory and Indirect effect theory -Media rarely influence individual decision. Direct propaganda comes from other people like, colleagues, family etc. -First opinion leader influence people then media could be influential. -Audience as adult have already developed political opinion independent from media. -Only socially isolated people might be directly affected by media. • Indirect effect theory: When media do seem to have an effect, that effect is filtered through other parts of the society. • Limited Effect theory: Media have minimal and limited effect because those effects are mitigated by a variety of mediating or intervening variables. The Experimental Section • This section headed by psychologist Carl Hovland in the army and made documentaries like ‘Why we fight’. • Hovland used controlled variation technique (isolating some elements in an experiment). • It was found that soldiers had been easily manipulated by the documentary. Military propaganda was not successful as it had been assumed. Time was a key variable in attitude change, slow shifts in attitudes • He found that one sided presentation (the war would be a long one) is more effective for those who are already in favor of the message. • Two sided presentation (the war would be long, but alternative view was addressed) is more effective for those who hold divergent perspectives and those who have higher level of education. The Communication Research Program • The Communication Research Program was funded by Rockefeller foundation after the war. The research had resulted with a bunch of books and articles on persuasion. They looked at the communicators, content of communication, fear-arousing appeals, organization of the argument (if it straightforward or implicit): • In conclusion the persuasive power of the message is depending on set of factors like trustworthiness of communicator, intelligent level of audience. Persuasion Researches • In persuasion researches individual differences are influential in results. • Limitation of the experimental Persuasion Research -They are conducted in laboratory atmosphere in where some variable are under control. -They search immediate effects different than surveys. -They are not appropriate to be used in over time. -Real life conditions cannot be explored in experimental studies. Emergence of the Media Effects Focus Why do media effect us in a limited way • because of individual differences, psychology or perception: personality characteristics of audiences. • because of group membership or relationship-social categories: people different backgrounds: age, sex, class, ethnicity. Attitude Change Theories Three motivations for these type of research • Success of Nazi propaganda, necessity of counter strategies • Young people in the army are needed to be bind together around a common target. • It was a great opportunity to have such a large people coming from variety of backgrounds. • Attitude change theories which is named as cognitive consistency comes from Lazarsfeld, Klapper to DeFleur. cognitive consistency: People tend to preserve their existing view. Cognitive dissonance-discomfort by Festinger proposes inconsistency (in media messages) would create psychological discomfort. People tend to keep their view or make them consistent.Therefore they become selective either by defending existing protective mechanism or using routinised mechanism. • Three notions in attitude change researches -Selective exposure: In selecting, people expose the media messages that are already –heald attitudes i.e. seeing or reading their political party propaganda messages but not oppositions. -Selective Retention: People remember the best and longer info. The rest they forget easily. -Selective Perception: altering the messages according to existing attitudes and beliefs. (Remember the media in 1940-50s were different than the one we use today.) Attitude Change Theory • Strengths -Pays deep attention to process which messages can and can’t have effects. -Provides insight into influence of individual differences and group affiliations in shaping media influence. -Pays attention to selective processes helps clarify how individuals process information. • Weakness -experimental manipulation of variables their power; it underestimates media’s. -focuses on information in media messages, not on more contemporary symbolic media. -Uses attitude change as only measure of effects, ignoring reinforcement and more subtle forms of media influence.