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Copy of Limited Effects Theory

Journalism 3070

sadrina leon

on 19 December 2012

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Transcript of Copy of Limited Effects Theory

Limited Effects Theory Limited Effects Theory

The theory that media have minimal or limited effects, because those effects are mitigated by a variety of meditating or intervening variables.

Paul Lazersfield
(Research Conducted 1945-1960)

• Lazarsfield used sophisticated surveys to measure media influence on how people
thought and acted.

• Inductive : An approach to theory construction that sees research beginning with
empirical observation rather than speculation.

• Limited effects perspective : The guiding idea that media have minimal or limited

• Indirect effects theory : When media do seem to have an effect, that effect is
filtered through other parts of the society, for example, through friends or social

Media rarely influence individuals directly.
There is a two-step flow of media influence.
By the time most people become adults, they have developed strongly held group commitments.
When media effects do occur, they are modest and isolated. Carl Hovland:
The Experimental Section
(Psychologist; Hovlands wartime colleagues also researched)

•Studied the effects of motion pictures, film strips, and radio programs.(Experiments in mass communication)
Focus research on persuasion & Attitude(How people are exposed to a persuasive message)
Attitude Change Research

•Background in behaviorism and learning theory. Strength in identifying elements in media content that might influence attitudes and dividing straightforward experiments employing controlled variation to assess the strength of these elements.

•Controlled variation: Systematic isolation and manipulation of elements in an experiment

•Controlled variation experiments: systematically varying certain specified factors while other factors are controlled; this makes it possible to determine the effectiveness of the particular factors varied. (Goal was to obtain findings having a greater degree of generalizability). The limited effects theory is a communication theory that identifies the media as having limited effects amongst receivers, because people interpret the media in many different ways.

The theory is meant to address the way media influences the way people think and respond. Values/Beliefs Underlying the Limited-Effects Theory:

• Media rarely influence individuals directly.
o Findings indicated that most people are sheltered from direct media manipulation by their family, friends, coworkers, and social groups. Media does not easily change people’s attitudes. Rather they receive advice, critical interpretation and are highly influenced by the circle of people around them.

• There is a two-step flow of media influence.
o This belief asserts that media will be influential only if the opinion leaders who guide others are influenced first. Since these opinion leaders are sophisticated, critical media users the media does not easily manipulate them. Opinion followers always turn to opinion leaders for guidance and reassurance.

• By the time people become adults, they have developed strongly held group commitments such as political party and religious affiliations. These affiliations provide an effective barrier against media influence. When media effects do occur, they are modest and isolated. Research consistently showed that media-induced changes in attitudes or actions were rare. When such changes did occur, they could be explained by unusual circumstances. Negative Aspects of the Theory :

• Both Survey and Experimental research have serious methodological limitations not adequately recognized or acknowledged.

Empirical researchers were so anxious to popularize their approach that they sometimes made exaggerated claims. When they were challenged in the late 1960s, they were slow to acknowledge the limitations of their work and reacted defensively.

The methodological limitations of early empirical social research led to findings that underestimated the influence of mass media for society and individuals.
Lazarsfeld and Hovland failed to emphasize that they might be overlooking many types of media effects because they had no way of measuring them.

• Early empirical social research centered on whether media had immediate, powerful, direct effects; other types of influence were ignored.

The early research methods were best suited to study immediate, direct effects-if researchers couldn’t “see” an effect, it didn’t exist. Only later, did researchers develop techniques that permitted other types of influence to be empirically assessed. Positive Aspects of the theory :

• The limited-effects perspective effectively supplanted mass society theory and the propaganda theories as the dominant perspective on media.

This helped ease pressures for government censorship of media. It also reduced unjustified fears about massive uncontrollable media effects, which was a benefit for media practitioners.

• The perspective prioritized empirical observation and downgraded more speculative forms of theory construction.

It demonstrated the practicality and utility of empirical research and inspired development of a broad range of innovative methods for data collection as well as new techniques for data analysis.

• The limited-effects perspective provided a useful framework for research conducted in universities and colleges during the 1950s and 1960s. Joseph Klapper’s Phenomenistic Theory:
• It states that media rarely have any direct effect and are relatively powerless when compared to other social and psychological factors such as social status, group memberships, strong attitudes, and education.

• Often referred to as reinforcement theory- key assertion is that the primary influence of media is to reinforce existing attitudes and behaviors

Elite Pluralism
• Theory viewing society as composed of interlocking pluralistic groups led by opinion leaders who rely on media for information about politics and the social world
• Assumes that media have little ability to directly influence people

Wright Mills and the Power Elite

• Argued that in American Society, political power was not decentralized across a broad range of pluralistic groups- he believed that power was centralized in a small group od military-industrial-complex leaders, whom he called the power elite Two Step Flow Theory:

The Idea that message pass from the media, through opinion leaders, to opinion followers.

In the two-step flow, people who screen media and pass in those messages and help others share their views.

Opinion Leader:
In two-step flow, those who pass on information to opinion followers.
Opinion followers: In two-step flow, those who receive
information from opinion leaders. Attitude Change Theory

Pays deep attention to process in which messages can and can't have effects.
Provides insight into influence of individual differences and group affiliations in shaping media influence.
Attention to selective process information. Attitude Change Theory
Experimental manipulation of variables underestimates media
Focuses on information in media messages, not on more contemporary symbolic media
Uses attitude change as only measure of effects, ignoring reinforcement and more subtle forms of media influence Two Step Flow Theory :

Idea that messages pass from the media
through opinion leaders, to opinion
followers Limited Effects Perspective:
The guiding idea that media have minimal or limited effects (cc) photo by medhead on Flickr
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