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Media effects Hypodermic needle model Minimal effects model

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1 Media effects Hypodermic needle model Minimal effects model
Uses and gratifications Agenda-setting Framing Priming Spiral of Silence

2 Hypodermic needle model
Working hypothesis of propaganda studies (1920s-1940s) Regarding public as undifferentiated mass Vulnerable, because of its atomization, to outside influences Media intending to (instrumentalised in order to) doctrinate Assuming immediate persuasive effects Anecdotical evidence Did Randolph Hearst prompt the Spanish-American war in 1898? Did Stalinist propaganda work, or did Russians merely acquiesce and resign to their fate under totalitarianism?

3 Limited effects model Early empirical (survey) research into campaign and media effects (e.g. Berelson, Lazarsfeld & McPhee, The People’s Choice, 1954) Finding remarkably weak informational and persuasive effects Explanation: Avoidance of cognitive dissonance Selective exposure Selective perception Selective retention Limited effects or fugitive effects?

4 Uses and gratifications
Shifting focus From what the media do to the audience To what the audience do with the media “The 'uses' approach assumes that people's values, their interests, their associations, their social rôles, are pre-potent, and that people selectively 'fashion' what they see and hear to these interests.” (Katz 1959) Gans (1974) Popular Culture and High Culture Taste cultures Audience active and goal directed Audience use media Media compete with other sources of need satisfaction Audience self-conscious of interests and motives for media use Abandon value judgments about cultural significance of mass communication Level of political interest is a matter of choice/taste not duty

5 Limitations of the “uses and gratifications” model
Coincides with claims (first emerging in the 1960s) that low levels of political interest and participation should not be regarded as a problem, but rather as indicator of stability, and public satisfaction with democracy (higher participation → polarization → instability) Diversity of motivations for media use may undermine the “selective exposure” argument of the limited effects model Individual (news) media selection can be based on non-political considerations (e.g. entertainment value) In US, for example, talk radio, the Daily Show, or Wall Street journal consumed for entertainment/information reason Resulting in exposure to biased political content with possible effects

6 Agenda-setting Shift in focus
From persuasive (directional) effects To cognitive effects Press ”may not be successful … telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.” (Cohen, 1963) Amount of news coverage afforded to a particular issue expected to determine public concern about that issue Groundbreaking publications McCombs & Shaw (1972) “The Agenda-Setting Function of the Mass Media” Funkhouser (1972) “The Issues of the Sixties: An Exploratory Study in the Dynamics of Public Opinion” Assessing causality between media and public agendas Hierarchical vs. Longitudinal studies Controlling for real-world indicators Aggregate vs. individual-level studies Considering conditionality of effects Assessing Granger causality Assessing dynamics (optimal effect-spans and memory decay functions)

7 Framing Framing sometimes defined as second-level agenda-setting
First level: transmission of object salience Second level: transmission of attribute salience Framing is indirect persuasion Direct persuasion concerns the altering of belief contents (convincing through argument that e.g. a policy choice will produce a positive instead of a negative outcome) Framing concerns the altering of importance that individuals attach to particular beliefs (convincing to support a certain policy by associating the policy measure with a particular value) Media vs. Individual frames Media frames: making some aspects of perceived reality more salient, to promote particular problem definitions, causal interpretations, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation Individual frames: mentally stored clusters of ideas that guide processing of information

8 Causes and effects of framing
Media frames as dependent variable Influenced by social norms and values of journalists, organizational pressures and constraints, pressures of interest groups, journalistic routines, ideological or political orientations of journalists Intentionality: ”authorities and pressure groups categorize beliefs in a way that marshals support and opposition to their interests” (Edelman) Media frames as independent variable Influences on attitudes and opinions - through problem definition, attribution of blame, indication of problem solution by the media Influences on individual frames – overlapping frames, but different weights attached: ”what was central to the media might be rather peripheral to most repondents” (Huang) Individual frames as dependent variable Thematic vs. episodic media framing affects attribution of responsibility, dependent on general salience of issues Conflict, human interest, or conflict frames tend to activate different cognitive processes in the audience Individual frames as independent variable Linking audience frames with patterns of political action and participation Audiences may process media stories either in terms of diagnostic, prognostic, or motivational framing; first two imply attribution of blame and responsibility, and expectations about future policy, hence asserting passivity in audiences

9 Priming Priming, a close relative to framing, reintroduces the notion of persuasive media effects Concerned with the consequences of setting the public agenda Experimental studies (Iyengar and Kinder, 1983) Persuasive effects on beliefs, attitudes and choices Placing issues or values high on the public agenda makes these salient, i.e. important, problematic, easily retrievable Salient issues serve as criteria for evaluating leaders, performances, political processes “It is difficult to change people’s preferences; it is easier to affect the priorities or weights they give to subpreferences bearing on the central decision. A voter may assess the political situation from several standpoints; from one, the Democrats appear better to him and, from another, the Republicans do. His decision is likely to follow the aspect given greater weight by him – with no change in the substance of his own opinions. Thus the voter’s feeling about what is critical in the political situation enables him to find a way out of a potential ‘conflict’ over the issues and hence facilitates political integration within the individual.” (Berelson, Lazarsfeld and McPhee, The People’s Choice, 1954)

10 Spiral of silence Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann
Public, opinion, sanction and punishment ”to the individual, not isolating himself is more important than his own judgment” Indidividual observes environment to assess distribution of opinions The stronger he finds his opinion present and reinforced by the environment, the more confident and outspoken he will be Public opinion understood as amalgam that compels consent Role of media It is not the actual but the apparent, publicly visible strength of opinions that the individual assesses Spiral of silence a dynamic model of public opinion formation Prevalence of opinions in the media key variable in explaining the likelihood that an individual will speak his mind, be silent, or change his mind

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