Week IV: Media Effects and Mass Communication
Wilbur Schramm, “How Communication Works,” in The Process and Effects of Mass
Communication. Ed. W. Schramm (Urbana: the University of Illinois Press, 1954), 3-26.
Paul F. Lazarsfeld & Robert K. Merton, “Mass Communication, Popular Taste and
Organized Social Action,” Mass Communication. Ed, W. Schramm (Urbana: The
University of Illinois Press, 1969), 492-512.
A communication Primer (1953)
Was the first film produced by the Eames Office (Charles and Ray Eames) to include outside
consultants and resources in significant ways
The film was based on the communication theory outlined in the 1949 book, The
Mathematical Theory of Communication by Claude Shannon (See Week III)
The terms which are used the most are: “signal,” “noise,” and “communication. Not only do
they use these terms to describe, say, a radio broadcast or a message being relayed by
Morse code but also the creation of architecture, design and even visual art.
The movie includes different concepts such as the concept of codes: what is a code? What
the receiver need to know to understand a message? Code is like a key or a framework to
understand a message.
Direct effects on individuals
Medias effects research: “The body of research that investigates how exposure to different
forms of media (television, video games, music, etc.) can directly influence the attitudes and
behaviors of its audience.” (Joshua and Charlene D. Elliot)
Communication is composed of 3 primary elements: - The source (the encoder)
- The message (the signal)
- The destination (the decoder)
Communication is effective when the Source and the Destination are intern.
Messages are signals, signs (it’s not exactly the same as semiotics)
The effective transmission of a message is shaped by “mediatory effects” (p. 8) “Exactly what
you will encode will depend on your choice of responses available in the situation and
connected with the meaning.”
The return process is called feedback.
Problem and challenge of communication: there are multiple channels open to us at any
For Scharmn, there are 3 levels of interactions:
1) The sensory and motor skill level (stimulus for action)
2) The dispositional level (learned integration of attitudes and values that act as
3) The representational level (meaning are assigned and ideas are consigned)
“The chief reason we study this process is to learn something about how it achieves effects”
Each person is potentially an encoder and a decoder
We want to know what a given kind of communication does to people. “Given a certain
message content, we should like to predict what effect that content will have on its
There are 4 conditions for the success of communicatio