General Purpose: To understand Direct Effects research and the early attempts to explain how media affect the way we think, feel, and behave across a wide variety of contexts. Unit Outline I. In The Beginning . . . the Direct Effects Perspective A. Earliest perspective to address effects - pioneers B. Got involved because of what happened during WWI (British propaganda against Germans manipulated public opinion to sway the US to get involved.) C. Hitler used the mass media to influence as well - incredible impact II. Magic Bullet Theory (DeFleur & Ball-Rokeach, 1989) A. Process of the Theory (Drug) - media shoots magic bullets into the audience, hits, and changes them. B. Three Assumptions 1. Will have a large effect on people 2. Effect is direct (can't resist, you're just a target) 3. Uniform effect (doesn't matter whether you are young or old, effects equally) III. Payne Fund Studies - Payne left a fund to investigate the impact of film on kids. 10 volumes published by different researchers during the 1920's. These methods are still used today. A. The Context of the Time 1. 1920 - birth of film (silent movies). People did not grasp the new technology; it confused them. 2. Birth of social science - looking at human behavior to see if there were any consistencies B. Rationale for Study - try to understand the impact of movies on kids (8-15 year olds) C. Some General Results 1. Audience and Movie Content - Edgar Dale did a content analysis of all movies made through 1929 (1,500 titles). Conclusion - there are three kinds of movies - crime, sex, and love. Difference between sex and love movies - marital status. 2. Effects on Thinking 3. Effects on Feeling - measured arousal by skin conductivity. Kids had an emotional response when shown sexual or scary movies. 4. Effects on Behaving - Kids who watched movies were restless when sleeping; therefore, parents felt there would be mental and physical consequences. D. Attitudes and Movies (Peterson & Thurstone, 1933) 1. Goals - do movies change people's stereotypes? Are kids sensitive to the way men and women behave, racial groups, etc.? 2. Methods - always used experiments (no surveys), randomly selected groups and compared them. Did not bring kids into a lab setting (took place in a school setting). Kids did not know that they were being observed. 3. Effects of One Film (r = .20; Box = 40/60) - there was a small effect even after one film. 4. Effects of Several (r = .15; Box = 42/58) - during multiple exposures/messages, the effect did not change much. Therefore, the first exposure plays a crucial role. 5. Persistence of Attitude (r = .22; Box = 39/61; 70% retention) - Retested the same group 2 years later and found a strong persistence. Some decrease but held onto most of it. E. Overall Conclusions from Payne Fund 1. Was the first scientific study of the mass media. 2. Was huge in scope (Thurstone did at least 16 experiments). 3. Was strongly interpreted as the magic bullet theory but was exaggerated. IV. The Invasion From Mars (Cantril, 1940 - case study of mass media research) A. Preview 1. Describes a radio broadcast (60 minute play) that aired in 1938. Produced by Orson Wells and the Mercury Theatre Players. Wells was 21 years old when he produced this program. B. Historical Context 1. During 1938, depression in US (25% unemployment). WWI over, WWII started the year after the broadcast....crazy time in America! 2. Breaking news had just been introduced by radio. C. The Broadcast 1. The Plot - based on the novel by H. G. Wells, War of the Worlds, that describes the invasion of the earth by martians. 2. Neat Tricks - Wells made it sound like breaking news. Used names of places that were familiar. 3. Timing of Announcements - Announced at the beginning, middle, and end that it was a fictional play for entertainment. Messages from sponsors were presented throughout the show. D. The Public Response 1. The Panic - millions panicked. Switchboards were tied up. Lots of gun fire at shadows. Believed the world was at war and it was coming to an end. 2. Real Harm a. Guy fell and broke his arm when going to get his gun. b. Guy took his life savings ($3 which he was going to use to purchase shoes) to purchase a bus ticket, found out it was a radio broadcast, wanted a refund but was refused. He sued the radio station so they mailed him a pair of shoes. E. How Many Panicked? 1. Size of Audience - Hadley study estimated that between 6-12 million people tuned in. Americans were not equipped to perform this study - could only use interview. 2. Proportion Panicked - estimated that 1-2 million panicked F. Why this Broadcast? 1. Dramatic Excellence - quality, well done, piece of fiction, skilled actors, well written 2. Status of Radio - radio is new and wonderful but people did not understand it. 3. Credibility of Fictional Characters - fictional characters appeared to be real (used real names). G. Why People Panicked 1. Tuning In Late (r = .40; Box = 30/70) 2. Critical Thinking (r = .10; Box = 45/55) - slight effect. Compared those less educated to better educated and found that the less educated panicked. 3. Religious Beliefs and Personality - found a strong religious element. Evangelical Christians were more like to believe in the broadcast since they believe in the Old Testament. H. Conclusions 1. Seen as Support for Magic Theory - direct, large, and uniform. Media is dangerous and powerful. 2. Cross-cultural Invasions - there have been two attempts to broadcast the War of the Worlds and panic ensued. Mobs then burned down the radio stations. V. A Bit of Whimsy or Tipper Gore's Inspiration? A. America in the late 40's and early 50's - paranoid state, mistrust. Families would save to build a bomb shelter. People used to believe the Communists were putting fluoride in our drinking water so we would be submissive. B. Dr. Wertham and Comics (Wertham, 1954) - claimed that comic books were a dangerous threat. During the 1950's, 60 million copies were sold monthly. Wertham would take in juvenile delinquents to study brain disorders. He noted that most were reading Batman comic books. C. Methods of Study 1. Clinical Interviews - requires training on how to conduct clinical interviews. After interview, you can compare your responses to reference books. Kids admitted that after reading a comic book on crime, they went out and committed the crime. 2. Projective Testing - Wertham saw aggression and hostility in these kids when performing projective testing. Example - ink blot tests. 3. Content Analysis of Comics - Wertham read the comic books the kids brought in and analyzed the content. D. Content of Comic Books - Wertham found 4 major types. Constant theme in all - violence and sex 1. Crime a. graphic violence - comics showed more than the movies in the 40's. b. crime scripts - showed you how to engage in this behavior. c. sexual contents - did not show nudity but women in revealing clothing, etc. 2. Jungle - same as crime ones but moved from city to jungle. One reason, people could wear less clothing. Introduced foreigners (example - Nazis) 3. Superman - super guys (white) were going after foreigners. Batman was recruiting guys to the gay lifestyle (never saw him with women). 4. Love - targeted to young girls (other themes targeted young boys). Good girl falls in love with bad guy. E. Effects of Comics 1. Modeling - Wertham clearly could see modeling effects from clinical interviews. 2. Cultivation - Kids would report that they believed it was okay to do what they read in the comics. 3. Illiteracy - Wertham was concerned that good kids would read bad grammar (ugh, etc.) and result in illiteracy. F. Understanding Wertham's Research 1. Clinically Interesting - only worked with kids that came to the clinic and the comics they brought with them. 2. Supported by Other Research - novel ideas of modeling and cultivation. 3. Not Scientific - Wertham did not publish in scientific journals but wrote books. 4. Sensationalism versus Truth - Wertham got a Senate investigation of comic book publishers. As a result, comic books disappeared except for Casper, etc. VI. Summary of Direct Effects A. First Perspective - was the first attempt to understand from a social science perspective - pioneers B. Hindsight Criticism - easy to criticize since it was brand new. C. Popular Theory Today (Tipper's Song) - evidence that the magic bullet theory does not work, only a slight effect.
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