The media equation is a theory developed by two professors of communication, Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass, at Stanford University. The theory is simple. They state that people treat the media as if they were real, hence the equation: media = real life. Basically Reeves and Nass are saying that people on an unconscious level perceive the media as real. People view objects of the media are talking to them personally. Reeves and Nass view things such as computers, televisions, radios, and other media's as inanimate objects. They don't believe that these objects are about to get up and move as if they were alive, but that the objects that relay the media are reacted to as though they were alive.
"Reeves and Nass credit the slow pace of evolution as the reason that the human race responds socially and naturally to the media: "The Human brain evolved in a world in which only humans exhibited rich social behaviors, and a world in which all perceived objects were real physical objects. Anything that seemed to be a real person or place was real." So we haven't yet adapted to the twentieth century media that only depict images, but which themselves personify the characteristics of human actors." (Griffin, pages 375-376)
To prove their theory Reeves and Nass held experiments. One is an experiment that they did with television. They gathered a group of students to participate. "The goal of the study was to show that responses to television content could be changed when the television sets were assigned particular roles." (Reeves and Nass, page 122). They took two groups of students and gave them specific tasks. The first group was to watch two separate televisions, called specialist TVs. One TV was identified as "News" and the other one was identified as "Entertainment". For each TV the participants wee in different chairs. The other group was to watch one TV with both news and entertainment, called generalist TVs. The TV was labeled "News and...
Bibliography: 1. Geiger, Seth; Reeves, Byron. "The Effects of Scene Changes and Semantic Relatedness." Communication Research Vol. 20 April 1993: pages 155-171.
2. Griffin, Em. Communication, A First Look At Communication Theory. San Diego: McGraw-Hill, 2000.
3. Leshner, Glenn; Reeves, Byron; et al. "Switching Channels: The Effects of Television Channels on the Mental Representation of Television." Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media Vol. 42 Winter 1998: pages 21-33.
4. Moon, Youngme; Nass, Clifford. "How ‘Real" Are Computer Personalities?" Communication Research Vol. 23 December 1996: pages 651-670.
5. Nass, Clifford; Reeves, Byron; Leshner, Glen. "Technology and Roles: A Tale of Two TVs." Journal of Communication Vol. 24: pages 122-136.
6. Nass, Clifford; Sundar, Shyam S. "Is Human-Computer Interaction Social or Parasocial?" Human Communication Research August 17, 1994: 114-126.
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