The psychological aspect of media influence began to be discussed with the appearance in 1450 of the first printing press. Sometimes the historical evidences were used to chronicle the express changes of public opinion or the collective behavior due to the massive impact of the media on the audience.
In other cases, this effect was not as pronounced, but the media opponents concern about media influence on other people encouraged them to various protests. The desire to protect not themselves, but some abstract “other” people from the impact of the mass media was usually explained by the effect of a third party. In this case, the individual believes that other media consumers are more receptive to suggestion and the negative impact of violence and pornography.
The psychological aspect of media influence must be considered from the perspective of cause-and-effect relationship, where as the “cause” will be the information coming through various means of communication. Typically, in the laboratory studies of the impact of mass media on the mind and behavior of the individual, conducted by sociologists and behaviorists, stringent precautions are taken to minimize the impact of extraneous factors and to ensure accurate measurements. This method allows scientists to directly observe the results of the mass media influence on the individual. Historians, on the contrary, are limited by the retrospective assessment, when the facts of media influence are presented in the form of a documented review, judgments, and actions appear especially bright and unambiguous.
Moreover, if social scientists and behaviorists collect data on the consequences of media influence, experimenting and exploring individual consumers of mass media (sometimes a single user), historians often use the aggregate data archival, limited to the study of social manifestations of the effects of media. It should be noted that the following historical facts involve not deviant, but the typical manifestations of the impact of the mass media.
In recent years, a great benefit to the generalizations of different areas of research on media influence brought a new research technique known as meta-analysis. For example, Pake and Comstock (Paik & Comstock, 1994) conducted an extensive review of the research papers on the impact of television violence and as part of this investigation they have developed a convenient scheme of meta-analysis, distinguishing variables (for example, the characteristics of the audience and the types of anti-social behavior). Meta-analysis involves finding a common statistical base of a large number of studies in one direction and the subsequent granting of summary results based on all available evidence.
Students, writing their research proposal on the subject must note the diversity of it. They can use one specific direction, such as media influence on body image, youth, or eating disorders and bring the full and detailed report on the issue.
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