COMM 2001 Lecture 3 – September 23, 2013
History of Quantitative Methods in Communication
Understanding Human Nature
• Science as a disciple evolves in the 1800s (physics, chemistry, math, biology)
• Sociology adopts scientific method (1890’s)
• Scientific approach to studying human behaviour
Early Communication Research
Changing relationships – mass society (people move into large areas)
Industrial revolution printing press, literature (available to everyone no longer just the rich) mass production (daily
Education system – access to information
• Early studies founded on conception of mass society – early 19 century
• Industrial revolution
Urbanization/modernization – effects?
Migration, bureaucracy, contracts, innovation
Social differentiation, Psychological isolation
Magic Bullet Theory
• H.G Wells war of the worlds – 1938
• Brought together a basic understanding of human nature and social order from the end of the 19 century to
- 6 million people were listening to the radio show and believed it to be real (it was a play)
- Radio was primary mass communication tool, people relied on it to get information on the world/society
- Aliens invade and show ends with the creatures dying etc.
- People panicked, mass hysteria (NY and NJ areas where the show was broadcasted), phoned into the radio
Communication messages are like a bullet, direct measurable effect Effects Research
Not everyone had the same reaction, what were the differences?
28% thought it was real, why didn’t everyone else?
Looked at education, religious beliefs, other traits (variables) etc.
Looking at controlled variables, could tell outcome of broadcast
Can no longer say media message will have same effect on everyone, need a more sophisticated model
• Hollywood and the movies – Payne Fund Studies (Done voluntarily, 13 projects, studied effects of watching
movies on people, children’s behaviour, issues of aggression etc.) lead to conclusion that Hollywood did
need to be conscious of conduct and language used in movies, created code of conduct)
• WWW 2 propaganda films (saw that mass comm. was an effective tool and used it to mobilize groups to
help in war effort, purchase war bonds to support the effort etc.
• Lazersfeld – Election campaigns (research of effects of media campaigns on elections, reinforces existing