Chapter 2

Neuendorf – Milestones in the History of Content Analysis
The Growing Popularity of Content Analysis
Being used more frequently by a growing array of researchers
o communication
o journalism
o sociology
o psychology
o business
Figure 2.1 Cautions:
o Tabled terms are content analysis terms… a number of them are qualitative
studies – not what we are defining
o The indexes overlap in their coverage.
o Some of the growth documented is due to growth in the number of journals
Box 2.1
o PsychInfo, Social Science Citation Index, ProQuest Digital Dissertations
Milestones of Content Analysis Research
Rhetorical Analysis
o First recorded message analyses were of subjective, normative essays
consisting of advice on effective speaking
o Aristotle – Rhetoric “the art of discovering persuasive proofs”
Biblical Concordances and the Quantification of History
o Religious studies have had enormous impact on content analysis
o The systematic indexing of large message sets brought order and
retrievability to the study of massive historical docs
o Concordance: cross-listing of terms and concepts so that themes might be
readily accessed in a large text.
o Decryption: identification of intended meanings for written symbols
 Rosetta stone: three parallel script types:
 Hieroglyphs, dmotics and greek letters
Payne Fund Studies
o Before TV there was narrative film: concerns about corruption of the
nation’s youth
The Language of Politics
o Harold Lasswell: “Who says what to whom via what channel with what
 The Da Vinci of the Behavioural Sciences
 His honesty about the limitations of his techniques
 Content analysis operates on the view that verbal behaviour is a
form of human behaviour, that the flow of symbols is a part of the
flow of events, and that the communication porcess is an aspect of
the historical process … Content analysis is a technique which
aims at describing, with optimum objectivity, precision and
generality, what is said o a given subjet in a given place at a given
 The Fine Art of Propaganda (Lee & Lee 1939)
The War at Home: Advances in Social and Behavioural Sciences Methods Druing
o The war was marked by unprecedented cooperation between private
industry, government and the scholarly research bodies.
o WWII gave the social sciences a remarkable level of acceptance
o US War Dept.’s Information and Education Division conducted a series of
experiments on the effectiveness of some of the seven-lart Why We Fight
series of training and indocrination films produced for the military by
Frank Capra.
 The films didn’t work: no patriotism
 Audience measurement techniques were developed.
 Indiviudal differences research flourished.
o Code breaking and surveillance used content analysis
Speech as a Personality Trait
o Edward Sapir: famous linguist, anthropologist and psychologist.
 Human personality traits can be discerned from communication
o Gordon Allport (1942, 1965):
 Psychometrics (the measurement of psychological traits and states)
 Clinical Diagnoses
o 1950s: Psychology starts to use formal content analysis
o 1990s: it is generally accepted as a diagnostic method
Department of Social Relations at Harvard
o Used computer text analysis to content analyze written messages from:
 Linguistics, psychology, anthropology and communication
 Harvard Third Psychosociological Dictionary – coded 3,564
different target words with 83 different tags (job role, clothing,
body part)
 Stanford Political Dictionary
 Davis Alcohol Dictionary
o These lexicons are vital to modern content analyses.
Television Images: Violence and Beyond
o 1920s and 1930s – It was all about the movies
o 1950s – TV took over!
 Content analysis was used to study violence in TV
o George Gerbner and his Cultural Indicators Project Team
 Frequency and types of violence on US entertainment television
began in 1967
 It has found that TV violence is always higher than everyday
This research involved studying the moving image: they had to
move beyond simple text and develop new methods that
considered nonverbal and other behaviours, artefacts and even
production techniques.
The Power of Computing
o Advances in technology have pushed content analysis forward.
o There will never be automatic content analysis
The Global Content Analysis Village
o 1955 Allerton House Conference found:
 Attendees across disciplines were concerned with issues related to
using content analysis to make inferences about sources or
receivers and with the trend toward going beyond “simply
counting the frequency of words or other symbols.”
Lacy, Fico & Riffe – Introduction