Media effects

Media effects
How do the media influence us?
Effects studies
Early effects scholars
“Powerful effects” theory
Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion
Harold Lasswell, WWII propaganda
“Bullet” or “hypodermic needle” theory
Assumes that people are passive,
Minimalist effects theory
Paul Lazarsfeld, 1948
“Two-step flow” model
Status conferral
Agenda setting
Narcotizing dysfunction
Media lull people into passivity
Cumulative effects theory
• Elizabeth Noelle-Neumann
• cumulative effects theory’spiral of
silence model
• dominant view can snowball through the
• dominant view not sufficiently
• people fear rejection
Uses and gratifications studies
challenges to audience passivity
reevaluation of scholarly assumptions
“gratifications”--why people use media:
“surveillance” function--scan
environment for danger
• “socialization” function--helps us
maintain social relationships
• “parasocial” relationships--artificial
Gratifications, con’t
diversion function
Consistency theory
• individual selectivity
• selective exposure
– we choose our media
• selective perception
– Walter Lippmann: “We do not see first and
then define; we define first and then see.”
• selective retention and recall
– 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast
• Media’s initiating role
– by age 18, US children have watched
18,000-20,000 hours of TV
– children learn prosocial behavior
• Role models--big influence
• Stereotyping--forms images in our mind
• Erosion of boundaries that separate
generations--children’s exposure
Media-depictions of violence
• learning about violence
• observational learning
• media violence-– a catharsis?
– prods socially positive action?
– teaches us the world is a scary place
Media violence as negative
• Aggressive stimulation theory
– Albert Bandura’s studies in 1960s
– Zamora case
– Bundy case
– Deer Hunter cases
• Catalytic theory-Schramm, Lyle, Parker
– for some children under some conditions
George Gerbner’s “Mean
World Syndrome”
• Societally debilitating effects of violence
– media world is more dangerous real world
– desensitizing theory--more violence is
necessary to make an impact
– Gerbner Index since 1970s
– 30,000 murders, 40,000 attempted
murders seen on TV by age 18
– give up freedom for personal safety
Media agenda-setting
creates awareness
establishes priorities
perpetuates issues
not “what to think,”
but “what to think
Media induced anxiety and
• information “overload” or “pollution”
• New York Times--12 million words! More info
in one day than in a 17th century person’s
• media induce passivity--”couch potato”
• we neglect sports, neighborhood &
community activities
• “well informed futility”