Theories of Selective Influences (Selective exposure theory)
This theory is about people coming up with their own induviduality. As opposed to the theory of uniform influences, the theory of selective influences members of society to interoperate messages from the media differently. Messages that are directed from the media can have different effects in audience’s habits, needs, beliefs and values with responses with no variable. >
Also known as “social learning theory” occurs when a member of society acts out what they perceive in the media and adds it to how they act in real life situations.
George Gerbner studied how people reacted to a certian medium and researched the thoughts and reactions of people.
Socialization Theory >
Theories of Uniform Influence
(Magic Bullet/ Hypodermic Theories)
This theory states that everyone in a society, whether you’re black, white or purple, rich or poor, all have similar emotions and outlooks. The media show a message and members of the society decode the message similarly. The emotions triggered by the message are said to be alike too.
This is why advertising has blossomed. You see the Dairy Queen blizzard on TV and here that mouth thing talk about how good it is. Next thing you know, you’re on your way there to get one. I’m sure every single one of us felt the same way as we watched the towers fall on Sept. 11. We were scared, wanting answering, angry and revengeful.
Theories of Selective Influences
Now we can’t possibly all think the same. If we did, we wouldn’t be unique, nor would there be a need for the First Amendment. Theories of selective influences say that since we have different behaviors and beliefs we interpret messages selectively. Where as theories of uniform influence say the media is powerful, mind controlling if you will, selective influences thinks just the opposite. The theory states that the media is neither powerful nor direct so it can’t possibly have the same effect on us. For example, people take President Obama’s speeches seriously…and then there’s people who don’t.
Inhibitions are our moral and ethical DNA. Since this theory is a behavioral theory, it looks at the way our inhibitions affect us physically. If the media presents a message to us over and over in different ways saying that our morals or ethics are wrong, we will start behaving in the way the media’s message says. I’m sure all of us were taught not to cuss at our parents. Let’s say a show comes on TV, the boy is always cussing at his parents and he’s the ‘cool kid’ at school. A boy the character’s age is going to start cussing at his parents thinking it’ll make him cool like the kid on TV.
In the Fast and Furious movies Brian starts out as a cop who goes undercover to catch the street racers, but by the end he’s a street racer himself. The racers were the media outlet to Brian. He was around them for so long that he started racing for them as well. This charged he morals as a cop.
Have you noticed that horror movies are getting more and more suspenseful? This is because we see a scary movie and the next time we go to the theaters we expect to see something that we haven’t seen before. Since horror movies have been around for awhile, producers have to find ways to make them scarier so we are more apt to go see them. The desensitization theory states that with heavy media usage, we get used to certain topics and they have less of an effect on us.
Can you guess what this theory states? If you said the opposite of the desensitization theory, you guessed right. People will see a message from a media outlet and react so strongly to it that they become more sensitive to the subject.
This PETA video is an excellent example. The more people watch this, the more sensitive they are to the subject of animal cruelty.
(Social Learning Theory)
Let’s say someone sees a character on TV acting in a certain way. The person then decides he or she likes the behavior of this character. He or she decides to use this behavior to cope with a situation. When he or she does this, it works! This is rewarding to the person so it turns into a habit to use the character’s behavior. This is called the modeling theory. Still don’t understand this theory?
Here’s a diagram that’ll hopefully help.
George Gerbner did an experiment to see if TV violence leads people to believe there is more violence in the world than there really is. He was right. He found that there was more violence portrayed on TV than there was in real life. 10 times more actually. His cultivation theory says that we get our ideas of the real world based on what we see on TV.
You may remember Mike Teeve. He won one of Willie Wonka’s golden chocolate bars. In the film, he watched a lot of wild west movies. So many in fact, that he believe the real world was just like the wild west. This is an example of the cultivation theory.
Uses & Gratifications Theory
People have psychological needs such as interactions with others. People can use media to meet these needs. They use different kinds of media based on what need they want to satisfy. According to Blumler and Katz, there are four different needs: escapism, personal relationships, identity, and surveillance.
In this cartoon, the character is watching a TV show he doesn’t care for. He keeps watching though to satisfy one of his psychological needs.
This theory says that the media have a way making certain stories seem more important than others. For example, the things they think are important are on the front page, or have a picture. Because of this emphasis, readers believe certain stories are the most important when in reality they might not be. “Media isn’t good at telling us what to think about a topic, but they are good at telling us the topics we should be thinking about.”
Take this front cover of the Florida Times-Union for example. What stories seem like the most important based on the agenda-setting theory?
The one about the air show has a huge picture making it seem important. The article about the robbery victim has a big headline and pictures making it seem even more important.
Everyone has ideas of what to do in various situations. If media reinforces our ideas, then we reinforce our thoughts of that situation. I’m going to use myself for this example. I have a pretty good idea of what I’d do if someone tried to kidnap me- kick, scream, bite, pull hair. I would pretty much put up a huge fight and get someone’s attention. Let’s say I’m watching TV and a girl about my age and size does just that when she’s getting kidnapped. I’m going to think that my schema will work quite nicely, when in reality it might not go that way at all. Take a look at this example.
The movie “Inside Man” is about a man named Dalton who robs a bank and hold everyone inside hostage. He sees a boy playing video games and takes him into the money vault for a talk. The boy is playing “Grand Theft Auto” and when Dalton asks boy if he’s scared, he says he not. Everyone has to make money, it’s tough on the streets and he understands that this is the man’s way of making money. So the video game is the media outlet. Grand theft auto is a game about stealing cars for money. Therefore, he thinks Dalton is just stealing money, not trying to hurt anyone.
Schema is another word for stereotypes. Schema has two different parts. First, there’s the prototype which is a representation of something. And second, there’s attributes. Let’s use lizard as an example. The prototype is the lizard, some attributes are green, fast runner, has a tail, ect. We have schema so we can quickly identify things. But sometimes our schema aren’t always right. The lizard could actually be brown. What does this have to with media? Advertisers use stereotypes so they don’t have to explain as much, making their ads shorter and more to the point.
The stereotypical surfer dude has is tan, and has sunkissed-blonde hair. This isn’t always true. My dad, for example, has brown hair and isn’t very tan at all. >
“The cultivation theory is when people are constantly filled with the same image or viewpoint about a certain person, topic, etc. so much so that they believe that image is the only way to be, when in reality it isn’t.” >
Implications of the Media in Society
“Cultivation theory is a theory that states that the media is essentially responsible for the way in which people view the world. This theory attributes extreme social power to the media and holds that people are taught over time to respond to situations based on what they think is the appropriate way. The Cultivation theory believes that the media teaches normality through television, video, music, etc. It says that life as we live it is a reflection of media ideas that have been portrayed to us since childhood.” and “According to the theory, men will watch media and perceive that it is “normal” for them to act like the men portrayed in the media. Equally for women, advertisements show what is “normal,” which equates to how women act, dress, and try to look. According t the University of Washington, a study found that the amount of time an adolescent watches soap operas, movies, and music videos is directly correlative with negative body image and wish to be thinner. If media reinforces what is “normal” in society, and people see approximately 2500 advertisements a day, then that is a lot of reinforcement.” >
Reality TV: Can It Impact Children’s Learning?
“… a child can begin to cultivate a false sense of reality based upon what he or she is continuously exposed to on television. In short, what a child watches on television can greatly influence how they come to view the world.” >
Media Effects Theories
Framing can happen either consciously or subconsciously. After artists, writers, editors, managers, owners, etc. (gatekeepers) decide a story is part of their agenda (what they want the public to think), the story is framed. Imagine a photograph; only certain items are captured within the frame of that photograph, some things in the center, some in the foreground and others in the background or out of focus.
Cultivation theory is analogous to the growth of a plant. As information is disseminated, the ecology of the media environment that members of society are exposed to will define how they view their society. Just as exposure to water, soil and sunlight determine the growth and yield of a plant, members of society will think and act differently according to how much and what kind of news media they consume. >