The five main media effect theories
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The Five Main Media Effect Theories. Or: how this stuff winds up making us feel/do things…. Magic Bullet/Hypodermic Needle Theory. 1920’s Most simple model Basis of most effects that followed

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The five main media effect theories

The Five Main Media Effect Theories

Or: how this stuff winds up making us feel/do things…

Magic bullet hypodermic needle theory
Magic Bullet/Hypodermic Needle Theory

  • 1920’s

  • Most simple model

  • Basis of most effects that followed

  • Believes that the media is SO powerful and that viewers are SO spongelike that it is able to inject its audience with its messages.

Example war of the worlds
Example: War of the Worlds

  • 1938 Broadcast by Orson Welles of H.G. Well’s novel The War of the Worlds

  • Broadcast as part of the Mercury Theater regular radio program

  • Performed as a “mockumentary”

  • Believed by Millions!


Were they crazy
Were they crazy?

  • According the The Guardian the New Jersey police HQ was besieged by callers and numbers of people fled their homes in terror.


  • Welles’ program began a minute or two prior to a popular show ended – people flipped to the middle of the show

The two step flow
The Two-Step Flow

  • 1940’s

  • Katz and Lazarsfeld

  • Hypodermic=too strong

  • Media is filtered by “opinion leaders”

    • People are the intervening factors between stimuli and belief/action

  • Source  Message  Media Opinion Leaders  General Public (GP)


  • Source: Burger King

  • Message: Open Late

  • Medium: television commercial

  • Opinion Leader: Diddy

  • General public

Limited effects
“Limited” Effects

  • 1940’s to 1960’s

  • Hovland, Lazarsfeld, Cooper and Jahod, and Klapper

  • Aka law of minimal consequences

  • Media has a small effect on population.

The limitations
The Limitations

  • Intervening variables

  • Individual differences

  • Social differences

The hovland army experiment
The Hovland Army Experiment

  • Why We Fight – a film series by Frank Capra

  • Tested how effective propaganda techniques (a form of media influence) were on groups of soldiers.

What hovland noticed
What Hovland noticed

  • Who learned

  • Who changed their minds about the enemy

  • Who was more eager to die (not many)

  • Gap between smarter and less educated

Basically media is powerful
Basically, media is powerful…

  • Sometimes forms attitudes

  • Sometimes only reaches a fragment of the audience

  • Sometimes only reinforces what is already there

  • Sometimes provides a model for behavior (not true effect bc no 100% causality)

Uses and gratifications
Uses and Gratifications

  • 1970s (the me era)

  • Katz and Blumler

  • Uses play an active role in media (we use media to gratify ourselves)

  • Media Gratification can come from

    • Content

    • Familiarity

    • General exposure

    • Social context

4 basic uses
4 Basic Uses

  • Surveillance: knowledge brings securty (Maslow)

  • Personal Identity: to determine what we are like and what we are not

  • Personal Relationships: we gain belonging.

    • The Watercooler Effect

    • Show/Team Ownership

  • Diversion: escapism

Spiral of silence
Spiral of Silence

  • 1980’s

  • Noelle-Neumann

  • People look to mass media to provide the popular opinion

  • People then choose to share opinion or not based on its relationship to the popular opinion

  • Media has more power than individual.

Other important theories
Other important theories

  • Cultivation (Gerbner): tv is the thing that speaks the most to most families; therefore, tv creates the common view of the world, the common social roles, and common values

  • Revision (Hirsch): some groups are more effected than others (based on SES)

More important theories
More important theories

  • Media Determinism (McLuhan): “the medium is the message”

  • We believe based on the type of media

    • Newspapers

    • Books

    • Radio

    • Television/Film

    • Internet

And lastly
And Lastly,

  • Synthesis (Katz): the most important things are the

    • Media we select

    • The people we associate with

So basically we are affected by media
So BASICALLY, we are affected by media

  • Somewhat

  • Dependent on our Socio-Economic Status

    • In-groups

    • Education

    • Economics

  • Dependent on our experience