History of Media Studies - Media Effects

Media Effects

The less paradigm in media studies since the Second World War has been associated with the ideas, methods and findings of Paul F. Lazarsfeld and his school: media effect studies. Their studies focused on measurable, short-term behavioral ‘effects’ of media and concluded that the media played a limited role in influencing public opinion. The “Limited-Effects” Model developed by Lazarsfeld and his colleagues from Columbia was highly influential in the development of media studies. The model claims the mass media has “limited-effects” on voting patterns. Voters are influenced, rather, through the ‘two-step flow’ model, the idea that media messages are disseminated through personal interaction with ‘opinion leaders’.

The model of limited- effects was so influential that the question of media “effects” on politics was left largely unaddressed until the late 1960s. Eventually Mass Communication scholars began to study political behavior again and the limited-effects model was called into question.

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