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COMM002: Media and Society

Unit 2: Media Effects   According to a 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children 8 to 18 years old use entertainment media for an average of 7 hours 38 minutes in a typical day, more than 53 hours a week. For much of that time, children are using more than one medium, so they are exposed to 10 hours 45 minutes of media content in those 7½ hours.[i] Children are the most impressionable of media consumers, but the media and their content affect our entire culture. This unit will cover a few of the main theories of media effects, but as you’ll discover, these theories are controversial in that media effects are so difficult to study.


[i]“Daily Media Use Among Children and Teens Up Dramatically From Five Years Ago,” Kaiser Family Foundation, last modified Jan. 20, 2010. www.kff.org/entmedia/entmedia012010nr.cfm Unit 2 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 10 hours to complete.
 
☐   Subunit 2.1: 6 hours
     ☐   Subunit-wide Reading: 30 minutes
     ☐   Subunit 2.1.1: 1.5 hours
     ☐   Subunit 2.1.2: 1.25 hours
     ☐   Subunit 2.1.3: 1.75 hours
     ☐   Subunit 2.1.4: 1 hour
☐   Subunit 2.2: 2.5 hours
☐   Unit 2 Assignments: 1 hour
☐   Unit 2 Assessment: 30 minutes

Unit2 Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- discuss the role media play in shaping culture; - identify and compare the key theories of media-effects research; - explain the basics of media research methods; and - discuss the shortcomings of media-effects research and the potential for its misuse.

2.1 Media Effects   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: “Chapter 2, Introduction: Harry Potter and the Media Bogeyman” and “Section 1: Mass Media and Its Messages” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: “Chapter 2, Introduction: Harry Potter and the Media Bogeyman” and “Section 2.1: Mass Media and Its Messages” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read Chapter 2, Section 1 on pages 58-70 carefully and keep it in mind as you proceed through this unit. Pay particular attention to the first part, from the subheading “Propaganda and Persuasion” on page 58 to “Media Effects and Behavior” on page 60.
 
Reading these sections and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.
 
Note: This reading applies to all of subunit 2.1. Take careful notes and review as needed.

2.1.1 Media Affects and Reflects Culture   2.1.1.1 Techniques of Propaganda   - Reading: George Mason University: Andy McDonald and Lene Palmer’s “Propaganda Techniques” and “Other Techniques” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

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  • Web Media: YouTube: “Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl Commercial − Imported From Detroit” Link: YouTube: “Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl Commercial -Imported From Detroit” (YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Propaganda differs from advertising in that propaganda’s goal is to change opinions while advertising’s goal is to sell a product. But what do you make of this commercial, considered by many the best from the 2011 Super Bowl? What claims is the advertiser making about the city of Detroit? The advertiser obviously believes changing opinions about a city is as important as selling the product.
     
    Watching this video and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
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2.1.1.2 Brave New Persuasive Technique   - Reading: PBS Frontline: Mary Carmichael’s “Neuromarketing: Is It Coming to a Lab Near You?” Link: PBS Frontline: Mary Carmichael’s “Neuromarketing: Is It Coming to a Lab Near You?”(HTML)
 
Instructions: This reading is a prime example of why we need to be media literate; we have to know how the media industry tries to influence our behavior. Mary Carmichael’s article describes how researchers are scanning our brains to find the best persuasive techniques.
 
Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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  • Reading: PBS Frontline: “Interview: Clotaire Rapaille” Link: PBS Frontline: “Interview: Clotaire Rapaille” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Like the previous reading, this one highlights how the media industry tries to influence our behavior. Clotaire Rapaille helps Fortune 500 companies discover the unconscious associations for their products that will help them sell to consumers.
     
    Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
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2.1.2 A Violent View of the World   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading for subunit 2.1. Please review pages 60-70 of Understanding Media and Culture, beginning with “Media Effects and Behavior.” Reviewing this selection and studying your notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

2.1.2.1 Does Television Kill?   - Reading: The Center for Media Literacy: George Gerbner’s “TV Violence and the Art of Asking the Wrong Question” Link: The Center for Media Literacy: George Gerbner’s “TV Violence and the Art of Asking the Wrong Question”(HTML)
 
Instructions: Professor Gerbner studied the effects of television violence using his cultivation theory. In this article, he proposes changing the question from whether television incites violence to asking what cultural forces have contributed to an increase in television violence.
 
Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
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2.1.2.2 What the Doctors Say About Television and Children   - Reading: American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Public Education’s “Media Violence” Link: American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Public Education’s “Media Violence” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This committee of the Academy of Pediatrics clearly believes a link exists between television violence and the real kind. Pay special attention to what the committee recommends for television viewing.
 
Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
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2.1.3 Media Stereotypes   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading for subunit 2.1. Review the part of chapter 2, section 1 from Understanding Media and Culturetitled “Cultural Messages in the Media (pages 62-63). Reviewing this selection and studying your notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

2.1.3.1 Gender Stereotypes and Super Bowl Ads   - Web Media: The Kojo Nnamdi Show: “Gender Stereotyping in TV Ads” Link: The Kojo Nnamdi Show: “Gender Stereotyping in TV Ads” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Click the “Listen” button to hear host Kojo Nnamdi talk with advertising experts about gender stereotypes in Super Bowl commercials, then watch the six ads they discuss.
 
Watching/listening to this web media and taking notes should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
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2.1.3.2 Television and Teen Pregnancy   - Reading: Pediatrics: Rebecca L. Collins, Mark N. Elliott, et al.’s “Watching Sex on Television Predicts Adolescent Initiation of Sexual Behavior” Link: Pediatrics: Rebecca L. Collins, Mark N. Elliott, et al.’s “Watching Sex on Television Predicts Adolescent Initiation of Sexual Behavior” (HTML)
 
Instructions: As you read the study from Pediatrics on the effects of media consumption on teenage sexual behavior, keep in mind what you heard from Kojo Nnamdi and his guests. The article is typical of media-effects research and is heavy on statistics. Skim the sections on methods to get an idea of how media research is carried out, but read the results and discussion carefully.
 
Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
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2.1.4 The Internet and Its Possible Effects   Note: This subunit is covered by the reading for subunit 2.1. Review Understanding Media and Culture, Chapter 2, Section 1: “New Media and Society” (pages 63-66). Reviewing this selection and studying your notes should take approximately 15 minutes.

  • Web Media: TED Talks: Clay Shirky’s “Institutions vs. Collaboration” and “How Cellphones, Twitter, Facebook Can Make History” Link: TED Talks: Clay Shirky’s “Institutions vs. Collaboration” (Adobe Flash) and “How Social Media Can Make History” (Adobe Flash)
     
    Instructions: Watch these two videos from innovative thinker Clay Shirky on why the Internet is different from other mass media in how it allows us to reach others and form groups. Along with what the textbook says, try to form a mental model of how the Internet might affect our cultural values and political practices.
     
    Watching these videos and taking notes should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Terms of Use: These resources are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. They are attributed to TED, and the original versions can be found here and here.

2.2 Media Effects Theories   2.2.1 The Main Theories   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: “Chapter 2, Section 2: Media Effects Theories” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: “Chapter 2, Section 2: Media Effects Theories” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Chapter 2, Section 2 on pages 70-77 provides good summaries of media effects theories. Communication research journals include hundreds of studies using agenda setting, uses and gratification, symbolic interactionism, spiral of silence, media logic, or cultivation analysis for a theoretical basis. Try to form an understanding of each theory, and then concentrate especially on cultivation analysis.
 
Reading this section and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

2.2.2 Cultivation Theory Applied   2.2.2.1 Revisit the Teen Pregnancy Study   - Reading: Pediatrics: Rebecca L. Collins, Mark N. Elliott, et al.’s “Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings from a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth” Link: Pediatrics: Rebecca L. Collins, Mark N. Elliott, et al.’s “Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings from a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Review this study that was assigned in subunit 2.1.3.2, this time concentrating on the theoretical section. What assumptions does cultivation theory make about audiences and how they watch and absorb content?
 
Reviewing this article and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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2.2.2.2 Revisit George Gerbner’s Research on Television and Violence   - Reading: The Center for Media Literacy: George Gerbner’s “TV Violence and the Art of Asking the Wrong Question” Link: The Center for Media Literacy: George Gerbner’s “TV Violence and the Art of Asking the Wrong Question” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This article by George Gerbner and the study from the journal Pediatrics both use cultivation analysis to explore “whether those who spend more time with television are more likely than lighter viewers to perceive the real world in ways that reflect common and repetitive features of the television world,” as Professor Gerbner writes. Cultivation analysis has been the dominant theory used by those who crusade against sex and violence in the media, as is the case in these two readings. As we’ll see later, the use of this research sometimes has created controversy.
 
Reviewing this article and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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2.2.3 Media Effects Research Methods   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: “Chapter 2, Section 3: Methods of Researching Media Effects” Link: Understanding Media and Culture: “Chapter 2, Section 3: Methods of Researching Media Effects” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Chapter 2, Section 3 on pages 78-83 provides a summary of methods used to test communication theories. Each method has a profound effect on the results and how results are analyzed. Beyond the need for integrity in research, a focus group produces a much different type of data than a paper-and-pencil questionnaire, with different avenues for interpretation.
 
Reading this section and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

2.2.3.1 Cause and Effect Reasoning   - Reading: Changing Minds: “Inferring Cause,” “Cause and Effect Reasoning,” and “Causal Fallacies” Link: Changing Minds: “Inferring Cause” (HTML), “Cause and Effect Reasoning” (HTML), and “Causal Fallacies” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read these three short summaries of cause-and-effect reasoning. A valid media-effects study must be constructed carefully if cause and effect are to be inferred. As we will see in the next subunit, saying that media causes violence, teen pregnancy, or other undesirable behavior can be difficult to prove and can create controversy.
 
Reading these articles and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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2.2.3.2 A Last Look at the Teen Pregnancy Study   - Reading: Pediatrics: Rebecca L. Collins, Mark N. Elliott, et al.’s “Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings from a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth” Link: Pediatrics: Rebecca L. Collins, Mark N. Elliott, et al.’s “Does Watching Sex on Television Predict Teen Pregnancy? Findings from a National Longitudinal Survey of Youth” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Go back over the claims made in this article on television and teen sexual behavior. Review the methods and ask what things the researchers did to ensure that any conclusion about cause and effect are valid.  
 
Reviewing this article and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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2.2.3.3 Shortcomings and Misuses of Media Effects Research   - Reading: Understanding Media and Culture: “Chapter 2, Section 4: Media Studies Controversies” Link: Understanding Media and Culture (PDF): “Chapter 2, Section 4: “Media Studies Controversies”
 
Instructions: Read this last section of Chapter 2 on pages 83-88 carefully. The discussion about the shortcomings of media effects studies will have bearing on the subunits below.
 
Reading this section and taking notes should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
Terms of Use: This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share-Alike 3.0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee.

2.2.3.4 Audiences Negotiate Meaning   - Reading: Temple University: Renee Cree’s “Temple Researcher Finds Different Outcome in Reanalysis of Study on Teen Exposure to Sexualized Media” Link: Temple University: Renee Cree’s “Temple Researcher Finds Different Outcome in Reanalysis of Study on Teen Exposure to Sexualized Media” (HTML)
 
Instructions: By now you should be familiar with the study on television viewing and teen sexual behavior. The press release from Temple University describes another study of the data in which the investigator, Laurence Steinberg, comes to a somewhat different conclusion, based on the idea of an intervening variable. He also touches on the idea that all of us negotiate our own meaning from what we see in the media, one of the principles of media literacy.  
 
Reading this article and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
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