Media Effects: Theories

Hypoderlic Needle Theory

‘Injected’ with ideologies, beliefs, messages and values. While our behaviour is easily and directly shaped by media messages. This means that whatever message the media is trying to address we will believe completely and are easily persuaded into the beliefs on the media message with shock factors and information provided without questioning the message from the media.

Two Step Flow

The media assumes a more active audience (An audience less persuaded by media messages and questions them) who will discuss the media text with each other. However, it still assumes we can be passive and proposes that we are then influenced by ‘opinion leaders’ e.g. Parents, doctors and experts. These are people that will help to give more information on the media message and provide us with an answer on whether we should believe the message given by the media.

Cultivation Theory

Repeated exposure to a media message will lead to ‘desensitation’ which means the more a media message shows (Audience swearing and violence) the less sensitive people will become about the situation until they are completely okay and aware of the situation

Uses And Gratification

This theory investigates why the audience use the media and assumes that the audience are active consumes – not passive. Media can be used in many different ways such as: Surveillance in ways that people may watch the news to find out what is happening in the world. Diversion, in ways that people may use media as a procrastination tool and to avoid responsibilities or situations that are going on in their life. Personal identity is also a factor as people may be able to relate to a person in the media and find this comforting to have similarities to this person. Finally, media can also be used for personal relationships for example; a similar interest in a show or film people may be talking about. By watching this, it may give the person a topic to speak with and have in common with another, building on their relationship.

Reception Theory (Stuart Hall)

The audience do not passively accept a media text and question the text on what its message. Hall proposed three different audience readings.

Dominance reading – Media text interpreted in the way intended by the producer

Negotiated reading – Audience accepts some of the media text but not all aspects

Oppositional reading – Audience in conflict with the text message

Audience readings can depend on: Gender, age, situation culture, lifestyle, experience and knowledge.  Gender can mean that people will have different views because of the different experiences the have gone through and peoples ages may mean they are more experienced, mature and knowledgeable in certain situations.

An example of the Reception Theory is on the popular and controversial game ‘Grand Theft Auto’ (GTA) and discussed different peoples personal views on the game and if teenagers should be playing this game.

A Parent’s View – Depending on whether a parent thinks their child is mature enough mentally and emotionally to handle the game and play it for entertainment purposes only may determine on them letting them play the game. Also, some parents may be more lenient than others into letting their child play the game as they may themselves or not care as they trust their child is sensible enough to play the game if they like. Some parents may know about the game and can determine if it is appropriate to let their child play. (A parents would have a negotiated reading)

Social Worker’s View – Social Workers would believe that the game can have negative influences on a child or teenager and may disapprove of the glamorization of weaponry and drugs in the game and may believe it could influence children and teens. (A social worker would have an oppositional reading)

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