Communication and Advertising
Mass Media effects
individuals and society
The omnipotence of mass media2
Media influence of society and individuals3
Empirical studies on campaigns4
Uses and Gratifications Theory5
Broadcasting studies (the adaptation theory)6
Studies on socialization6
Studies on reception7
Studies on the ideological effects8
Theories of technological determinism8
Spiral of silence theory9
Studies on the agenda setting function9
Wrapping it up10
In 1938, after a radio broadcast of a show called „War of the Worlds”, an Orson Welles adaptation of H.G. Wells’ famous book, in which the USA was being invaded by Martians, general panic took over all over the United States. People left their houses terrified by the imaginary invasion, thousands of crimes were committed and for many the Apocalypse had arrived. Luckily the show did not last! Even so, that spectacular chain of events enforced the scientists’ belief that mass-media effects are not only immediate but also direct and constant.
The omnipotence of mass media
By the time World War I had ended, mass manipulation through communication was already a well known fact and it represented a more or less accepted idea of the age. The arguments were based on what is called the conditioned reflex: an individual submitted to a stimulus (in this case, the message of a radio broadcast or a film), will react more or less instinctively and always the same. Studies conducted in the Unites States between 1929 and 1932 revealed that children for example, may end up developing sleep disorders or even try to copy the behavior of their heroes due to certain films. Mass-media is always growing and developing, expanding its territory, developing new grids and ways of transmitting information, but also diversifying its shows and constantly adapting to international competition and demands. Its evolution is easily noticeable in the interior dynamics of the development of mass media functions. In its „childhood”, the social functions of the press served three great needs: 1-informing; 2-expressing opinions; 3-entertainment. In its „teen” years, the communication system adds to its repertoire: 1-exposing corruption; 2-standing up for human freedom and rights; 3-offering global access to cultural goods; 4- every day entertainment for all types of viewers; 5- worldwide event informing.
The flip side of the coin reveals the problems it’s now confronting: 1- offering vulgar and distasteful entertainment; 2- stimulating delinquency; 3- contributing to moral degradation; 4- contributing to the deterioration of political conscience; 5- repressing human concerns and creative capabilities.
Reaching „adulthood”, six specific areas interest the mass-media in particular: 1- environmental protection supervising; 2- the presentation of a worldwide image; 3- the transmission of culture; 4- the gallery of debate hypostasis; 5- promoting consumption; 6- stimulating entertainment. In conclusion, howsoever characterized, mass-media functions circumscribe to the political, social and cultural requests of the age, society and international context.
Media influence of society and individuals
Assessing the media influence on individuals in society has represented for many decades a major concern for communication researchers. Indeed, many questions arise right from the start: does regular newspaper reading really favor citizen participation in public debates? Repeated interventions of politicians on television can really cause changes of opinion or intention to vote among the electorate? Does watching shocking images of children starving in African countries or soldiers dying, or governments falling really urge people to join humanitarian agencies? Are today’s children or teenagers more inclined to violence due to...