Film 240 Notes
Lecture 2 Chapter 15 Media Effects – Evolution of media research over time
- What media portrays has a strong influence/powerful effect on individuals
and society– suicide (teenagers after metal band suicide song), hijacking
pranks/threats (movie), killing spree couple, etc. cultural debates over the
suggestive power of music, visual images and screen violence. Relationship
between make-believe stories and real-life imitation has drawn a great deal
- Media effects research: attempt to understand explain and predict the
effects of mass media on individuals and society. Goal; uncover whether or
not there is a connection between aggressive behavior and violence in the
media, particularly in children and teens.
- Cultural Studies: area of mass media research research approach focuses
on how people make meaning, apprehend reality, articulate values, and order
experience through their use of cultural symbols. Scholars examine how
status quo groups in society, particularly corporate and political elites, use
media to circulate their messages and sustain their interests.
- Rise of media research: propaganda analysis, public opinion research,
social psychology studies, and marketing research.
- Propaganda Analysis: was considered a positive force for mobilizing public
opinion during the war (ww1), after war researchers labeled it negative,
calling it “partisan appeal based on half-truths and devious manipulation of
- Public Opinion Research: Opinion polls measure public attitudes. Walter
Lipman distrusted public’s ability to function as knowledgeable citizens as
well as journalisms ability to help the public separate truth from lies. Today,
social scientists conduct “public opinion research or citizen surveys” these
have become especially influential during political elections provide
insight into citizen behavior and social differences. A problem is the
pervasive use of unreliable Pseudo-polls: typically call-in, online, or person-
in-the-street polls that the news media use to address a “question of the day.”
- Social Psychology Studies: Measure the behavior and cognition of
individuals. Payne Fund Studies: series of thirteen research projects
conducted by social psychologists response to growing national concern
about effects of motion pictures. Researches concluded films could be
dangerous for young children and might foster sexual promiscuity among
teenagers establishment of film industry’s production code tamed
movie content 1930-1950.
- Marketing Research: Many advertisers and product companies began
conducting surveys on consumer buying habits in 1920s.
- Hypodermic-Needle Model: Powerful media affecting weak audiences,
sometimes also called the magic bullet theory or the direct effects model
media shoot their potent effects directly into unsuspecting victims. - Minimal-Effects Model: or limited model, media alone cannot cause people
to change their attitudes and behaviors. Researchers argue, in most cases
mass media reinforce existing behaviors and attitudes rather than change
them. Based on surveys and experiments:
o Selective Exposure: people expose themselves to the media
messages that are most familiar to them
o Selective Retention: and they retain the messages that confirm the
values and attitudes they already hold.
o Research study: the effects of mass communications: found mass
media only influenced individuals who did not already hold strong
views on an issue and that the media had a greater impact on poor
and uneducated audiences solidifying minimal-effects argument
- Uses and Gratification Model: response to minimal-effects theory
proposes to contest the notion of a passive (submissive) media audience
study ways in which people use media to satisfy various emotional or
intellectual needs. “why do we use media?” model addresses functions of
the mass media for individuals, but doesn’t address impact of the media on
- Conduction Media Effects Research: Private or Public Sector
o Private research/proprietary research: generally conducted for a
business, a corporation, or even a political campaign applied
research, addresses real life problems.
o Public Research: takes place in academic and government settings.
Involves information that is often more theoretical than applied, tries
to clarify, explain, or predict the effects of mass media.
- Scientific method: blueprint long used by scientists and scholars to study
phenomena in systematic stages.
o Relies on objectivity (eliminating bias and judgments on the part of
researchers), reliability (getting the same answers or outcomes from
a study during repeated testing) and validity (demonstrating that a
study actually measures what it claims to measure)
o Hypotheses: tentative general statements that predict the influence
of an independent variable on a dependent variable.
- Experiments: in media research isolate some aspect of content suggest a
hypothesis; manipulate variables to discover a particular mediums impact on
attitude, emotion or behavior. Experimental group ground under study
to test if hypothesis is true subjects from each group through random
experiment – simply means that each subject has an equal chance of being
placed in either group. Experiments have limitations, e.g. in field experiments
researchers have less control than in lab, but problems: when subjects are
removed from the environments in which they regularly use the media, they
may act different-often with fewer inhibitions than they would in their
everyday surroundings. While most experiments are fairly good at
predicting short-term media effects under controlled conditions, they do
not predict how subjects will behave months or years later in the real
world. - Survey Research: collecting and measuring date taken from a group of
respondents using random sampling. Benefits; usually generalizable to the
larger society and they enable researchers to investigate populations in long-
o Longitudinal studies: large government and academic survey
databases are now widely available and contribute to the
development of more long range or longitudinal studies, which
make it possible for social scientists to compare new studies with
those conducted years earlier.
o Surveys cannot show cause-effect relationships, but can how ever
reveal correlations: or associations between two variables.