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Propaganda and Persuasion / Media Effects (chapter 4)

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1 Propaganda and Persuasion / Media Effects (chapter 4)

2 An Evaluation / Analysis: What works and what doesn’t

3 The beginning of psychological and sociological studies
1918: Thomas and Znaniecki The foundation of modern empirical sociology Social psychology as a study of attitudes .

4 The study of attitudes Gordon Allport (1935)
Attitudes, in A Handbook of Social Psychology The Likert Scale: measurement of attitudes (5-point scale: from “strongly approve” to “strongly disapprove”) Also: The semantic differential scale The ‘shades’ of meaning of a concept, from ‘good’ to ‘bad,’ ‘black’ to ‘white,’ ‘love’ to ‘non-love’ (usually 7-point differential with 4 = neutral)

5 Attitude-Behavior Relations
Richard Lapiere study of 1934: Low connection between reported attitudes and actual behavior

6 Attitude-Behavior Relations Icek Ajzen & Martin Fishbein Psychological Bulletin, 84,5. 1977
A review of available empirical research supports the contention that strong attitude-behavior relations are obtained only under high correspondence between at least the target and action elements of the attitudinal and behavioral entities.

7 Studies in Public Opinion
Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion (1922) Free file at the Gutenberg Project HERE

8 Hypodermic Effect (1900-1930s)
The press is a powerful force in shaping public opinion. Messages were conceived as being ‘injected’ into the mind where they changed feelings and attitudes.

9 Limited Effects or the Social Influence Model (1940s to 1960s)
The period of strong advances in the psychological studies. In this period the foundations of the media effect were established. Surprisingly, the general conclusion was that the media don’t have as strong effect as it was thought before.

10 Lazarsfeld et al (1948) Erie County Study in 1940.
Hypotheses: The Media: 1. could arouse public interest in the campaign and encourage voters to seek out more information about the candidates and issues. 2. could reinforce existing political beliefs (make them stronger and more resistant to change) 3. would convert attitudes and change voters’ support from one to another candidate.

11 Lazarsfel et al. (1948) Erie County Study in 1940.
Findings 1. YES. People who read or listened to a substantial amount of campaign media coverage were more likely to become more interested in the election. 2. YES, BUT... Their interest and activation were selective in that they tended to seek out stories that were consistent with prior political attitudes. 3. NO. Those relative few who did change their minds did so not because of attending to the media directly but by filtering of information to them from people in the community (so-called “opinion leaders”)

12 Erie County Study in 1940. Important Conclusions
The media don’t have a direct impact, but are filtered by the community, by the opinion leaders “Two-step flow of communication.” “Multi-step flow” This revision included the flow of information from the media to multiple opinion leaders and between them. Further, it included also the concept of “gatekeepers.” The leaders were not just simple conveyor belts but also decided which information will pass through.

13 The Yale Studies The effects of source credibility on information processing (diminishing effectiveness of credibility, the “sleeper effect”) The ordering of arguments (primacy-recency) Explicit versus implicit conclusions The fear appeal: Effective appeal must include fear but also an option for eliminating fear

14 Other theories Consistency theories / Cognitive dissonance
Theory of Exposure Learning (comfort in familiarity: the more exposure, the more persuasion and liking)

15 Other approaches Diffusion of Innovation Agenda Setting Hypothesis

16 Diffusion of Innovation a process of filtering information through the media, interpersonal communication, and culture Five steps: Knowledge: learning about an innovation, Persuasion: forming an attitude toward the innovation, Decision: a decision to adopt or reject, Implementation: implementation of the new idea, Confirmation: confirmation of this decision.

17 Diffusion of Innovation

18 Diffusion of Innovation

19 Diffusion of Innovation
Factors influencing the process: 1. Personality, social characteristics, and individual needs. 2. Social / cultural system 3. Characteristics of the innovation

20 Agenda Setting Hypothesis
Although the media may not be successful in telling us what to think, they are successful in telling us what to think about. (Cohen 1963) By seeing certain subjects more often we are becoming convinced that they are important. Further, we evaluate other news in terms of what is important

21 Types of Agenda-Setting
Media agenda-setting Institutional agenda-setting The public agenda It is important to remember that there are some objective constraints on agenda-setting (objective conditions).

22 Gatekeeping Control over the selection of content discussed in the media;

23 Priming The ability of the media to affect which issues or traits individuals use to evaluate political figures. Individuals base their vote choice more on issues covered by the media than on issues not covered by the media The media's content will provide a lot of time and space to certain issues, making these issues more accessible and vivid in the public's mind

24 Framing Framing effects result from the media’s description of an event or issue that emphasizes potentially relevant considerations to help individuals make sense of the issue (e.g., suggesting causes) Individuals view policy issues consistent with how they are portrayed by the media

25 Framing A frame defines the packaging of an element of rhetoric in such a way as to encourage certain interpretations and to discourage others. E.g., Counterterrorism as law enforcement" vs. "Counterterrorism as war.

26 Types of frames (examples)
Causes of events Structural (socio-political structure) Attitudinal (beliefs/attitudes of individuals) Concerns Ethical (human rights, personal responsibility) Material (economic resources, environment)

27 Important In evaluating media-effects theories it is important to remember that: Most individuals have strong beliefs and views formed before a particular media influence Individuals are also influenced by things other than the media (e.g., friends)


29 Models of Mass Media Reporters of Objective Fact Neutral Adversary
Public Advocate Profit-Seeker Propagandist

30 Reporters of Objective Fact
An accurate reflection of “reality” Problems: The media are unable to report all facts—someone must select the facts Is it possible to report the facts alone?

31 Neutral adversary Reporters are gathering, evaluating and challenging available information, but are neutral (e.g., they challenge government officials and others in power). Problem: Reporters’ interests and values could influence newsgathering process

32 Public Advocate Reporters are agents of the public interest. They determine what the public interest is, they promote it, and engage citizens in the process. Problem: But what is public interest?

33 Profit seeker What becomes news is a byproduct of profit seeking
Problem: newsgathering and news reporting are the key to a profitable business

34 Propagandist The chief purpose of the media is to support and advance the interests of those in positions of power.

35 Motives of reporters/editors
Say, Reporters of Objective Fact (50%) Neutral Adversary (20%) Public Advocate (20%) Profit-Seeker (5%) Propagandist (5%)

36 Motives of media owners
Say, Reporters of Objective Fact (40%) Neutral Adversary (5%) Public Advocate (5%) Profit-Seeker (40%) Propagandist (10%)

37 Media bias (news content)
Timeliness Human interest and drama Concrete events Focus on known actors (e.g., presidents) Crime, scandals, etc. Government conflict Victims (e.g., of crime, natural disaster)

38 Media bias (ideological)
Liberal or Conservative?

39 The conservative critique: media have liberal bias
The decisive power over the news lies with journalists; owners and advertisers are irrelevant or relatively powerless. Journalists are political liberals. Journalists use their position to advance liberal politics.

40 The liberal critique: media have conservative bias
The decisive power over the news lies with owners and advertisers. Editors and reporters are independent only within the general boundaries of owners’ preferences. The owners are political conservatives. The owners use their position to advance conservative politics

41 What is the point of reference?
Is there a bias in the media (conservative or liberal)? How do you know that? In comparison with what?

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