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COM 275 Notes Unit 1

21 Pages

Course Code
COM 275

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I. Understanding Media Effects a. Process of Communication i. Different levels of communication 1. Interpersonal 2. Mediated 3. Mass ii. Communication Models 1. What is a model? a. A graphic means of explicating an abstract process such as communication b. Ex: Shannon and Weaver (1949) – communication as process c. Linear models: stimulus-response psychology d. Interactive models: feedback and exchange e. Transactional models: giving and receiving, emphasize how messages are formulated, exchanged, interpreted f. Different models explain different media effects 2. What model to use? 3. Lasswell’s Model (1945) a. Attempts to answer the question: i. “Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?” b. Methods of Media Research i. Statistical Methods (Descriptive and Inferential) ii. Common Methods: 1. Content Analysis a. Assesses what is presented in media b. Purely descriptive i. No evidence of media effects c. Hot to do it i. Select a sample ii. Coders assign messages to categories d. Outcome i. Tells us how much of something we have 1. Frequency or magnitude ii. Tells us how content differs 1. By medium, source, daytime, rating, etc. e. Pros i. Describes what’s on ii. Helps identify areas of interest and/or concern f. Cons i. Incomplete picture (limited to categories) ii. No evidence of media effect 2. Experiment a. Designed to assess causal relationships b. Three criteria for causality i. Correlation, time order, no third-variable cause c. Classic experiment i. Major characteristics 1. Random assignment 2. Manipulation d. Lab experiments i. Pros: criteria for causality, researcher control, low cost, easy to replicate ii. Cons: artifact (setting may affect a participant’s behavior), experimental bias 3. Survey a. Assess the measurable characteristics of a naturally occurring population b. Two goals: i. Describe characteristics of population ii. To establish associations or relationships between variables c. Pros: generalizability, good for description d. Cons: criteria for causality, poor data quality 4. Longitudinal Research a. Research observing outcomes at more than one point in time b. Two types: i. Panel Study 1. Exact same people 2. Multiple time points ii. Cohort study 1. Different people/samples 2. Observe at multiple time points c. Pros: can see change over time, rule out some alternate explanations d. Cons: validity threats, time and cost 5. Field Experiment a. Participants are studied in real-life settings b. Pros and cons: does not allow for much physical control, may raise ethical issues 6. Meta Analysis a. A means of systematically integrating the findings from many empirical studies b. Used to provide a big picture 7. Triangulation a. Use of multiple methodologies i. Increases credibility II. The “Established” History a. Magic Bullet Model (1920s-1940) i. Institute for Propaganda Analysis, “Public Opinion” b. Limited Effects (1940s-1960) i. Army research, People’s Choice Study, “Effects of Mass Communication” c. Moderate Effects (1960s-1980) i. Agenda Setting, Spiral of Silence, Dependency Theory d. Powerful Effects (beyond 1980s) i. In a limited context ii. NIMH (Television and Behavior) III. A Revised History a. Debate About Effects Has Always Existed i. Acknowledgement of early studies by psychologists/sociologists ii. Re-evaluation of major studies b. New Efforts Classify Different Effect Types and Causes i. Helps clarify what we do or do not know based on scientific evidence c. Precursors of Scientific Media Effects Research i. Newspapers and public opinion ii. Effects of music 1. Attention, psychology iii. Study of humor iv. Important Precursor Studies 1. Frances Fenton a. Effects of media violence and copycat crimes 2. Gabriel Tarde a. Effects of reading about crimes b. Penal philosophy v. Pioneers in Scientific Media Effects Research 1. Carl Hovland a. Effects of training felons b. Experimental research about media effects on attitude change i. First experiments in mass communication 2. Paul Lizarsfeld a. Effects of radio b. “opinion leaders” i. Two-step flow model of media effect 3. Harold Lasswell a. Five-question model i. Three functions mass communication should serve in society: 1. Surveillance of the environment (to inform) 2. Correlation of society’s response to events in the environment (to guide) 3. Transmission of cultural heritage (to educate) 4. Kurt Lewin a. Dynamics of group communication i. “Sweetbreads” study 5. Samuel Stouffer a. Pioneered the use of empirical research i. “Who says what in which channel to whom with what effect?” (Lasswell, 1948) 1. Added “under what conditions?’ 6. Wilbur Schramm a. Mediating Factors i. Focus on different reactions to the same media ii. Selective exposure, selective perception, selective retention, and social categories perspectives 7. Bernard Berelson a. Five variables in generalization b. There is evidence that: i. Some communication ii. On some issues iii. On some people iv. Under some conditions v. Have some effects 8. Joseph Klapper a. Media effects generalization i. Ordinarily, media are not a necessary or sufficient cause or change ii. Typically, mediating factors result in media being an agent of reinforcement rather than change iii. When media do cause change, two things are likely: 1. Mediating factors are inoperative, allowing direct mass media effect 2. Mediating factors impel change iv. Media effects do occur in certain residual situations 9. Albert Bandura a. Social learning theory b. Social cognitive theory c. “Bobo” study vi. Final Points 1. Historians note that inconsistencies existed during magic bullet years 2. Yet we should note that inconsistencies existed also curing limited effects years vii. Future of Effects Research: Challenges 1. Develop standard lines of demarcation to separate powerful, moderate, or limited effects 2. Identify the circumstances, conditions, or variables that account for media effects and offer generalizations IV. History of Mass Communication Effects a. What Defines Mass Communication? i. Large-scale distribution and reception process, characterized by: 1. One-directional information flow 2. Impersonal source and anonymous receiver 3. Asymmetrical source-receiver association (organized powerful source) 4. Market (ex: economic) exchange relationships 5. Standardized message content b. Stages of Communications i. Age of Signs and Signals ii. Age of Speech and Language iii. Age of Writing iv. Age of Print v. Age of Mass Communication c. Birth of a Field i. Trends leading change to modern society 1. Industrialization 2. Urbanization 3. Modernization ii. 1920s Mass Society 1. Social differentiation increases 2. Informal social controls weaken 3. Communication becomes more difficult 4. Media become more important information sources 5. Anomie: “Normless-ness” d. Magic Bullet Theory i. Perspective of much early research 1. People are socially isolated 2. Have uniform instincts 3. Not influences by social ties ii. Human nature and isolation = similar reception and interpretation iii. Symbolic bullets: 1. Media strikes every eye and ear 2. Direct, immediate, powerful, and uniform effects iv. Payne Fund Studies: 1 major research 1. Series of studies commissioned to examine content, audience, and effects 2. Studies do not really show evidence of uniform effects a. Still, many saw overall effects as very strong b. Interpreted as evidence of magic bullet e. Invasion From Mars i. Cantril (1940) Office of Radio Research 1. About 12 million heard broadcast 2. About 2 million panicked or thought it was real 3. Why significant? a. Used as evidence of powerful media effects b. However, not all viewers reacted the same V. Theory of Media and Theory of Society a. Media Content is Part of Culture i. Typology of culture-society relations 1. Materialism 2. Idealism 3. Interdependence 4. Autonomy ii. Mediation - media’s role in providing knowledge 1. Creates relationships with objects not directly known a. Provide versions of events not directly experienced b. Creates contact with actors, politicians, and others not otherwise accessible c. Cultivates particular perceptions of people, places, and events 2. Media perform various roles expressed as metaphors 3. Media do not have monopoly on indirect experience iii. Theories of media-society relations 1. Three types: a. Macro theories – dealing with the media as part of a larger social setting b. Media institution theories – focusing on the workings of the media as organizations c. Audience theories – concerned with audiences used of media 2. Mainly concerned with power, social integration, and social change a. Values will influence the perception of these categories 3. Mass Society Theory a. Corresponds to the dominance model of media power i. Media controlled by dominant elite ii. Produce standardized content promoting own interests iii. Strong influence on audience 4. Marxist Theory a. Middle/ruling class controls media b. Media and other social institutions operate in owner’s interest c. Media create a false consciousness among working class d. Middle/ruling class monopolize media to prevent political opposition 5. Functionalism a. Society is composed of interdependent institutions (including media) i. All respond and contribute to needs of society b. Media contribute by: i. Promoting order, control, and stability ii. Maintaining and transmitting culture, norms, and values iii. Reducing tension by providing entertainment 6. Critical Political-Economic Theory a. Media economics and technology concentrate ownership b. Results in commodification of content and audiences i. Diversity of available information decreases ii. Oppositional positions become marginalized c. Public interest is subordinated to private interests 7. Modernization and Development Theory a. Media can promote modernization and development i. Particularly in developing world b. Media can disseminate: i. Skills and technical know-how ii. Progressive work ethics iii. Democracy c. Media can aid educational, health, welfare programs 8. Communication Technology Determinism a. Social change is direct result of communication techno
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