Mass media has become a research issue during the 1930s and 1940s. This has imprinted it with an early concern with psychological effects that individuals cannot control or avoid. Hitler’s purported hypnotic power to control the masses through radio broadcasts was the most vivid image of such effects. Early research has been heavily influenced by these concerns and this remains an important theme of cultural and sociological meditation.
Sparks, G. G. (2015). Media Effects Research: A Basic Overview (5 edition). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Chapter 3 – A brief history of media effects research rent from Cengage site. UPDATE: For $18 you get access to the entire book for a semester. Individual chapters cannot be purchased anymore.
Chapter 11 – (free at this link) The impact of new media technologies
About the chpaters – Chapter 3 recounts the early and highly consequential early history of media effects research, emphasizing the main fear-related motivators of that research. It is the most important reading of the week. Chapter 11 offers a view on the latest research and perspectives on new media effects. “MEDIA EFFECTS RESEARCH provides an excellent introduction for students studying mass media’ effects on society. Through an engaging narrative style, the author presents fascinating research findings on media’ impact and related mass media theories. Students are provided a clear perspective of the relationship between science, methods, and practical questions about the effects of mass media.”
To better understand Glenn Spark’s discussion watch as much as you can of Frank Capra’s Prelude to War
Also, to better understand Glenn’s chapter, listen to as much as you can of “War of the Worlds” Radio Broadcast
Blumer, H (1933). Movies and Conduct. McMillan Press (The Payne Study) – Chapter 8, Emotional Possession
Emotional possession refers to experiences wherein impulses which are ordinarily restrained are strongly stimulated. In this heightened emotional state the individual suffers some loss of ordinary control over his feelings, his thoughts, and his actions. Such a condition results usually from an intense preoccupation with a theme in this case, that of a picture. The individual identifies himself so thoroughly with the plot or loses himself so much in the picture that he is carried away from the usual trend of conduct. His mind becomes fixed on certain imagery, and impulses usually latent or kept under restraint gain expression or seriously threaten to gain such expression. This emotional condition may get such a strong grip on the individual that even his efforts to rid himself of it by reasoning with himself may prove of little avail.
It is a distortion to allege that Paul Lazarsfeld’s view of the media focused narrowly on campaigns’ and their limited influence. Apart from the creative impulse of this work, which led to the incorporation of audience selectivity and interpersonal relations into the design of effects research, the fact is that most of his work on the media extends far beyond short-run changes of opinion and attitude.
Paul Lazarsfeld, Robert K. Merton – Mass communication, popular taste and organized social action (Backup site)
in L. Bryson, ed. The Communication of Ideas, New York, Harper and Row, 1948, p. 95 – 118.
Mass media can impact the public not only via psychological mechanisms but also through indirect, macro-social and institutional-functional processes. Of the most important such processes, Lazarsfeld and Merton mention status conferral, enforcement of social norms, narcotizing dysfunction, social conformism, monopolization (propaganda without countering), and canalization (advertising)…
Mass Communication Research: An old road resurveyed Joseph T. Klapper
The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Winter, 1963), pp. 515-527
American Association for Public Opinion Research
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2747097
Mass communication has many ramifications and so, too, do the research studies that seek a better understanding of its characteristics and its place in our society. Here it comes under the scrutiny of an old hand at critical surveys of mass communication research, himself a discerning researcher.
[This paper] proposes only to discuss a particular type of research orientation, noting that although it has been used to some degree in the service of mass communication research, it has not been rigorously or widely applied; that its potential, though great, has accordingly not been realized; and that our knowledge of the social effects of mass communication might well be greatly enhanced by its wider and more rigorous use. The research orientation to which I refer is functional analysis. The statement that it has rarely been applied in the service of mass communication research may raise some quietly incredulous eyebrows. Lowering them again is part of the objective of this paper.
Let us come back to the perennial question of the effects of depictions of crime and violence. In this springtime of 1963 I think I can safely say that it is generally agreed by both communication researchers and the more thoughtful segment of the public at large that such depictions do not in and of themselves turn normal children into delinquents-no, but that they may nevertheless exacerbate the maladjusted behavior of already maladjusted children, yes. A group of extremely competent psychologists is now attempting to determine whether such media fare decreases or increases levels of aggression. I will offer odds that the final answer will be susceptible of summary in Berelsonian terms, i.e. that some types of depicted violence will be found to have some types of effects on the aggression levels of some types of children under some types of conditions,12 or-yes, and no, both with provisos. I am not here arguing against the need of investigating dichotomous questions, but I think that if we are to learn what role these depictions do play in the development of children and young adults, we must also ask many nondichotomous and more probing questions.
An Editable Genealogical Tree of Media Effects Theory with some interesting intersections
Neumann, WR and Guggenheim, L
Optional/supplementary – not to be discussed in class
Media Sociology: The Dominant Paradigm
Theory and Society, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Sep., 1978), pp. 205-253
Social Implications of the Internet
Paul DiMaggio, Eszter Hargittai, W. Russell Neuman, and John P. Robinson
Annual Review of Sociology
Vol. 27: 307-336 (Volume publication date August 2001)
The Internet is a critically important research site for sociologists testing theories of technology diffusion and media effects, particularly because it is a medium uniquely capable of integrating modes of communication and forms of content. Current research tends to focus on the Internet’s implications in five domains: 1) inequality (the “digital divide”); 2) community and social capital; 3) political participation; 4) organizations and other economic institutions; and 5) cultural participation and cultural diversity. A recurrent theme across domains is that the Internet tends to complement rather than displace existing media and patterns of behavior. Thus in each domain, utopian claims and dystopic warnings based on extrapolations from technical possibilities have given way to more nuanced and circumscribed understandings of how Internet use adapts to existing patterns, permits certain innovations, and reinforces particular kinds of change. Moreover, in each domain the ultimate social implications of this new technology depend on economic, legal, and policy decisions that are shaping the Internet as it becomes institutionalized. Sociologists need to study the Internet more actively and, particularly, to synthesize research findings on individual user behavior with macroscopic analyses of institutional and political-economic factors that constrain that behavior.
Kraut et al.
Internet paradox revisited
The Journal of social issues [0022-4537] Kraut yr:2002 vol:58 iss:1 pg:49
Kraut et al. (1998) reported negative effects of using the Internet on social involvement and psychological well-being among new Internet users in 1995-96. We called the effects a “paradox” because participants used the Internet heavily for communication, which generally has positive effects. A 3-year follow-up of 208 of these respondents found that negative effects dissipated. We also report findings from a longitudinal survey in 1998-99 of 406 new computer and television purchasers. This sample generally experienced positive effects of using the Internet on communication, social involvement, and well-being. However, consistent with a “rich get richer” model, using the Internet predicted better outcomes for extraverts and those with more social support but worse outcomes for introverts and those with less support.
New research on the effect of over-connection on social and psychological effectiveness reported by the New York Times and NPR. Listen to the show.
The average person today consumes almost three times as much information as what the typical person consumed in 1960, according to research at the University of California, San Diego.
And The New York Times reports that the average computer user checks 40 websites a day and can switch programs 36 times an hour.
“It’s an onslaught of information coming in today,” says Times technology journalist Matt Richtel. “At one time a screen meant maybe something in your living room. But now it’s something in your pocket so it goes everywhere — it can be behind the wheel, it can be at the dinner table, it can be in the bathroom. We see it everywhere today.”
Richtel has spent the past several months researching the toll technology and “information juggling” are taking on our lives — and our brains. His series “Your Brain On Computers” describes how multitasking on computers and digital gadgets affects the way people process information — and how quickly they can then become distracted. (Also see Digital Devices Deprive Us of Downtime).
What was Lazarsfeld’s first research paradigm? What was his main concern?
What competing research traditions existed during the 1930s and 1940s?
What is Klapper’s research agenda?
What alternative forms of media effects do Lazarsfeld and Merton describe? Do their claim that the more we know the less we do ring true?
Where is the point of emphasis in this body of research?