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Media Effects Research

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    1. Media Effects Research

    2. The Early Years The history of media research begins in the period leading up to WWII when radio was beginning to make an impact on the cultural world. Two important early works: Cantril and Allport, 1935, The Psychology of Radio Cantril, Gaudet, and Herzog, 1940, The Invasion From Mars: A study in the Psychology of Panic.

    3. The Early Years Early media effects theory: The Hypodermic Needle Term coined by Lasswell, 1935 The injection of ideological bias that contaminated radio listeners in the manner of brainwashing.

    4. The Early Years Much of the academic literature about media in the early days of radio and television had a strong negative flavor. Two biggest influences on media theory: North American sociology The Frankfurt School

    5. Critics of Early Approaches The overly negative hypodermic needle approach to mass media received much criticism. The critical theories (predominantly European) Marshall McLuhan Challenged the view that media is inherently dangerous. the medium is the message global village Postmodernism a historical period & a theoretical position. Refers to a a break with tradition characterized by the collapse of the traditional values. Media can bring different cultures together, Breaking away from the high culture may not be a bad thing.

    6. Critics of Early Approaches The empirical science Postmodern theories had little impact in the North America However, the scientists have incorporated some core concerns from the critical theories into their research. Critical theorists, on the other hand, largely ignored and discredited scientific methods. This is where modern approaches to media started to diverge from each other.

    7. Critics of Early Approaches The limited effects paradigm: Some media content may influence some people some of the time under some circumstances. The effects of media are often indirect

    8. The Effects Tradition The media effects tradition has probably had the greatest impact of all media research on public. Concerns of the psychological effects of media are so common that they are rarely questioned outside of academia, except for the industry itself.

    9. The Effects Tradition In the broadest sense, media effects research explores the social, psychological and behavioral consequences of media exposure, particularly those consequences that are negative.

    10. The Effects Tradition The key question to ask is: WHO sends WHAT message to WHOM, WHEN, in WHAT WAYS, and with WHAT EFFECT?

    11. The Effects Tradition Media effects research can be organized across a five basic dimensions: content timing type direct versus indirect effects explanatory mechanisms

    12. Content Media effects are the result of exposure to different media content. Media effects scholars often study, for example, the impact of advertising, news, as well as many other forms of entertainment programming. Two of the most frequently studied types of media content in the effects tradition are portrayals of violence and sex

    13. Timing Media effects can occur either immediately or long time after exposure. Some effects of media exposure may last only for a few minutes (e.g., physiological arousal) whereas others may last for a long time, even for a lifetime (e.g., attitudes and beliefs about the world). Other effects are perpetuated across time through repeated exposure to the media.

    14. Types of Effects Most research about negative media effects focus on individuals physiological, cognitive, emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral changes through media exposure. e.g., arousal, fear, happiness, learning, etc.

    15. Direct/Indirect Effects Media effects can happen directly as a result of an individuals exposure to media content unmitigated or mediated by other people or processes. Or, individuals can be affected by media indirectly through changes in ones social environment, the presence of other people or a variety of other contextual features of the media consumption situation.

    16. Explanatory Mechanisms WHY do certain effects happen? Through what process do they happen? How? This is the most important and interesting question to ask. e.g, media effects happens through physiological arousal. The nervous system reacts to media input and causing viewer to think or act in certain ways. Media effects happens through cognitive process. People think about the incoming message; understand it and then affected by it. A mix of the two Other factors include personality, context of viewing, etc.

    17. Methods of Media Effects Research Almost exclusively quantitative, especially experimental. Cares about the causal relationship (the word effects should give this away). Stemmed firmly in the experimental psychology tradition.

    18. Theories of Media Violence (an example of media effects research Theories are not truths. They are intelligent speculations supported by empirical evidence. Some theory received more support empirically than others. However, intuitive theories often have more believers regardless of actual evidence.

    19. Theories of Media Violence Functions of theories: Description Prediction (practical for social research) Explanation (the ultimate goal of science)

    20. Theories of Media Violence Explanatory mechanisms the whys: Biological Cognitive Psychological Social Comprehensive (multiple perspectives)

    21. Theories of Media Violence Human behavior is influenced by many factors: Internal vs. Environmental Nature vs. Nurture

    22. A Biological Perspective Fear and aggression are two of the primary survival tools for human. We either flight (fear) or fight (aggression) when facing a threat from the environment.

    23. A Biological Perspective Media violence triggers biological (physiological) changes, specifically a general arousal, similar to how people respond to a real life threat (flight or fight).

    24. A Biological Perspective Our assessment or appraisal of this arousal may have two outcomes: Fear the situation is threatening Excitement the situation is challenging Fear ? discomfort, anxiety, and possibly emotional harm Excitement ? aggression

    25. A Biological Perspective

    26. A Biological Perspective Excitation Transfer Theory (Dolf Zillmann) Violent Media ? general arousal. Physiological arousal leaves residual excitation. This excitation is being transferred to the subsequent real life event. This leads to aggression in real life.

    27. A Cognitive Perspective Human consciousness and self-control is powerful enough so that mere physiological arousal may not be enough to cause real life aggressive behavior. Thus, the impact of media violence is ore cognitive than biological. How do we cognitive process media messages is the key here.

    28. A Cognitive Perspective Recall an earlier lecture on the cognitive perspective: Associationistic cognitive structure Schematic cognitive structure

    29. A Cognitive Perspective

    30. A Cognitive Perspective Priming Theory: Media primes or activates violent nodes (e.g., gun, killing, murder) in the associative memory network. The activation of these nodes in turn activates other linked nodes in this network through the process of spreading activation. This process leads to an increase in the accessibility (familiarity) of violent thoughts. When facing threats or challenges in real life (e.g., a guy pushed in a crowed subway) we are more likely to access violent thoughts in our cognitive network. This leads to real life violence.

    31. A Psychological Perspective There are a number of psychological factors that are not included by the biological and cognitive perspectives. But they are equally powerful sources of influence

    32. A Psychological Perspective A psychological perspective emphasizes on the importance of individual differences. Gender Motivation Personality Cognitive ability Self-awareness Self-esteem And many more

    33. A Psychological Perspective The Confluence Model of Aggression (Neil Malamuth): Media impact is considered only within the confluence of other psychological factors relevant to a particular behavior. In other words, we should not worry about everyone being influenced by mass media. We should focuses on those people who are more easily influence due to certain psychological pre-dispositions. e.g., HEAVY PORNOGRAPHY USE PREDICT GREATER SEXUAL AGGRESSION ONLY FOR MEN HIGH IN RISK FOR SEXUAL AGGRESSION.

    34. A Social Perspective We are not isolated beings. We live in a social world. Biology and psychology are not enough to make us behave in certain ways. We have to consider the social factors.

    35. A Social Perspective Media can influence society Violence as a social norm (e.g., war coverage on TV, high amount of violence on TV, etc). It enhances a heroic cowboy culture It changes our social perception But media is only one of the social factors that may contribute to real life violence.

    36. A Social Perspective Our Society also has a number of pre-dispositions Availability of guns in the society High level of stress among citizens (e.g., long working hours) Individualism Education Poverty

    37. A Comprehensive Perspective A good theory must be empirically testable. Thus a good theory is usually narrow and with constrains. Thus one theory can never explain everything. Thus recent efforts in media violence research is to synthesize different theories.

    38. A Comprehensive Perspective

    39. A Comprehensive Perspective A good idea but Lack of specification Impossible to be empirically tested The relations are way to complex to be meaningful The most accurate map of the world is the world itself, but it will be a useless map in terms of its function.

    40. A Comprehensive Perspective A good synthesis of theories must: Include only those theories that are well-tested. Be logical and not have internal contradictions. Limit only to relevant factors and variables. Empirically testable.

    41. A Comprehensive Perspective Some examples of good comprehensive theories: Social Cognitive Theory (Banduras own revisions of the social learning theory) a cognitive theory that considers several psychological and social factors. General Affective Aggression Model (Craig Anderson) has both emotional and cognitive components, and accounts for long term and short term effects.