Synthesis 2000: page
A UNIFIED MODEL OF MASS COMMUNICATION
The early history of the study of mass communication was generally involved in
the process of building models that would fairly represent the mass mediated
experience of who says in which channel to whom with what effect (Lasswell,
1948). The most celebrated of these, from a mass communication viewpoint,
include Shannon and Weaver's (1949) information model, Schramm's (1954) various
models, and Westley and MacLean's (1957) interactive model. Additional models
were also forwarded from the field of psychology; these included models by
Festinger (1957), Heider (1958), Newcomb (1953) and Osgood (1954) although these
models dealt more with interpersonal rather than mass mediated communication.
These models, however, tended to lack isomorphism in that they were not a good
fit for the actual communication experience. This fact led to a shift in
research attention from the development of holistic models, to ones that more
accurately reflected various individual elements within a mass mediated
experience or that reflected the use of a particular medium. Thus, for example,
models have been developed to deal specifically with television viewing or
specific aspects of television viewing and the cognitive processes that surround
those experiences (e.g., Anderson & Bryant, 1983; Thorson, 1989). Similar
models have been likewise developed for the other media (e.g., Shoemaker, 1986).
The results of these attempts have disembodied the mass communication process
such that there is no longer a unified manner in which to regard the mediated
communication experience. Although there have been calls for studies that
cross levels of analysis (Dimmick & Coit, 1982; Pan & McLeod, 1991; Whitney,
1982), there has been no recent attempt to synthesize a coherent model of mass
communications that would be suitable for the next century.
What follows, therefore, is our attempt to synthesize a unified model of the
mass communication process. It is our hope that our model will be equally
applicable to all media and will be able to incorporate the major theories of
mass communications as they currently stand. The effort is guided by Chaffee
and Berger's (1987, p.107) suggestion that a "valuable approach to ordering the
study of communication is to think of several levels of analysis of
communication events": the intraindividual, the interpersonal, the network or
organizational and the macroscopic societal. Although each level suggests
specific topics for research, "each level needs to be considered for a full
picture of communication in the overall process of socialization" (p.108).
Synthesis occurs when relationships between and among levels are considered
(Chaffee & Berger, 1987).
Our model contains four distinct elements (represented in the four frames of
Figure 1). The first deals with societal and organization norms, the second
with the product of the mass communication process, the third with the cognitive
processing of the media product, and the final element deals with the
post-exposure processes. Each of these particular areas is explicated below.
Frame 1: Societal and Organizational Norms
Societal Norms. This initial section of the communication model reflects two
distinct sets of processes that are represented in the first frame of the model.
The first set includes interpersonal interactions within one's family unit. As
set out by the Hs, which represent the nuclear family unit and the hs, which
represent the individual family members, each family is made up of several
individuals who would tend to interact on a daily basis, sharing the daily
occurrences of their lives through overt (see Berger, 1996) or covert (Ebesu &
Burgoon, 1996) one-on-one and familial interactions. The composition of these
households does not remain static in the long-term, however. Rather, the
composition would generally change on what may be termed as a rotational basis.
Initially, for example, a household could (1) be formed by the marriage of two
individuals, (2) expand with the arrival of one or more children, (3) contract
as the children grow and move on to create new households of their own, and
finally (4) contract still farther with the death of one of the spouses. Of
course, not all households contain more than one person as evidenced by the
number of individuals who live, for a variety of reasons, on their own (source).
Nevertheless, it is likely that these "households of one" would be tied to
another household, generally that of their parents or of their siblings, such
that these particular types of households would represent distal extensions of a
Each family would likely have a particular method of interaction, although
these patterns are said to fall into one of two largely independent dimensions.
For example, children of "socio-oriented" families are encouraged to focus on
social harmony within the family while children from concept-oriented are
encouraged to think about and freely talk about any issue (McLeod & Chaffee,
1972). These different types of interaction styles, independent of class,
religion and other demographic factors (McLeod & Chaffee, 1972), are said to be
important in the selection of particular media as well as interest in,
orientation to, social nature of, and learning from the use of those media
(Chaffee, McLeod & Wackman, 1973, Lull, 1980; McLeod, Atkin & Chaffee, 1972;
Tims & Masland, 1985; Thompson, Pingree, Hawkins & Draves, 1991). It is likely
that they also affect intrapersonal communication as well (Goss, 1996).
Beyond the effects of familial interaction, individual family members can be
involved in at least two distinct type of relationships (Rogers, 1995). The
first are those relationships are characterized as homophilous in that the
interactions occurs with other individuals who share essentially similar
backgrounds, socio-economic status, among other things. This relationship is
represented by the inhabitants of H1, H2 and H3. In contrast, heterophilous
interactions occur among individuals who do not have common backgrounds or
socio-economic status; these would include the family members from H3 and H4.
Further, it is likely that such relationships would not occur with individuals
who live in close proximity, since even in heterogenous cities, different groups
tend to find specific locales in which to reside. The importance of having the
later kinds of interactions is set out in Rogers (1995; also Bandura, 1994;
Rogers & Singhal, 1996) where the author points out that these 'cross-over"
interactions are essential for the diffusion of innovations. For example,
new technologies do not generally get a foothold in homophilous communities
since there is no new information to diffuse, rather they emerge in communities
from one or more change agents whose contacts with individuals from an
homophilous community is heterophilous in nature.
Organizational Norms. All individuals who make up the household units can
become sources of information for media organizations, both news and
entertainment. Although, media models are often only concerned with the
transmission of news through the news media, there is no inherent reason for
creating a dichotomy between news and entertainment production. Like news
creation, the process of entertainment creation must rely on information sources
to create viable products. While it is possible that such entertainment
products can emanate strictly from the minds of writers, directors, and
producers, it is more likely that such creative individuals rely on the
environment for their information as well as their inspiration. Thus, for
example, h1 who is part of H1, can report information directly to B, the media
company, or indirectly through an intermediary such as C. Another way of
indicating the relative positions of h1, C and B is that h1 and C make up B's
Since this aspect of our model is an extrapolation of the Westley-MacLean model
(1957), it should be noted that there are additional possibilities for
information gathering. First, B, the media company, can also search for
information directly from the environment. This element is laid out in the
direct lines from various hs and various Xs. Further, as indicated above,
information can also be obtained from intermediaries, C, which can be public
relations firms, advertising agencies, or other such services. However, as
Westley and Maclean (1957) pointed out, each additional level necessary to
obtain information necessarily changes that information, hence, an X can change
to X' if it passes from A to C and change to X'' if it also passes from C to B.
For that reason, any event portrayed by a media company cannot, with 100%
accuracy, portray an event such as X as it actually occurred. Further, it
should be pointed out that unlike earlier models of mass communication (sources)
and consistent with the Westley-MacLean (1957) model, this aspect of our model
does not represent a unidirectional process. Rather, feedback can occur from B
back to C, from B back to h1, from C back to h1, and from h1 back to his/her
However, as pointed by Lacy (1989), elements h1, C and B are actually part of
systems and/or organizations. For example, h1 is part of a larger household
unit, while C and B represent complete organizations. Thus, within each of
these systems. there are specific types of interactions, often depending on
particular hierarchical structures, that affect not only what type of
information is sought, but what type of information that can, in fact, be seen.
These norms significantly affect the manner in which information from the
environment is, and can be portrayed, through the media.
Once the information has passed into hands of the media organization (B), it
must make decisions on how to use the information it has collected. At this
point, the organization becomes a gatekeeper, picking and choosing which pieces
of information to retain and which pieces to exclude (e.g., Shoemaker, 1996).
Although this task often falls on only one or a small coterie of editors, these
choices, as with the information gathering stage, are made based on
organizational norms although it is possible for decisions to be left to the
vagaries of individual predispositions (Bleske, 1991; Harmon, 1989; Snider,
1967; White, 1950). Accordingly, television news stories are often chosen based
on their visuals such that a compelling story may not be used if it lacks the
requisite visuals. More generally with regard to news, general news norms often
dictate the types of stories that can be used. Although somewhat different
criteria are used in the entertainment realm, choices based on organizational
norms of decency often dictate the type of information that can be contained in
entertainment programming. Thus, up until last season, openly gay characters
were taboo on network television.
Frames 2 and 3: The Product and Attention
The Product. Once the product has been created and passed through the
screening of the organizational gatekeeper, it is generally sent into the public
domain via some type of broadcasting mechanism. This would include over-the-air
transmissions for television and radio, electronic publication for information
on the internet or the world wide web, and print publication for newspapers and
magazines. Once the product reaches consumers, it is assumed that it will have
effects upon them. At various times such effects have been thought to powerful
(e.g., Berlo, 1960; Schramm, 1971), limited (e.g., Klapper, 1960) and powerful
again (e.g., Noelle-Newmann, 1973, Ball-Rokeach, Rokeach, Grube, 1984).
However, it seems to us that question of media effects ultimately rests upon the
conceptualization of the product.
The product itself can be seen from one of two perspectives. Borrowing from
Reeves (1989), it can be seen as a "container" or as a collection of "data." A
container would include any holistic package; thus, news could be considered a
container, as would ads. Likewise, television program genres such as situation
comedies would also be containers. As Reeves (1989) points out, it is unlikely
that individuals actually include a mental construct for news, ads or situation
comedies. Nevertheless, these individuals may have expectancies regarding
particular media products (Olson, Roese & Zanna, 1996). Thus, an individual who
is watching television news may have a certain expectancy of what to expect from
such news broadcasts which in turn would affect the type of attention directed
toward the news. For the sake of ease, when we refer to media products in a
holistic manner we will follow Reeves and label them as containers. At the same
time we are cognizant that there are other ways by which to regard such
containers. In contrast and rather simplistically, when the product is regarded
as data, it necessarily must be decomposed into its component parts such that,
in the case of television, the product becomes essentially nothing more than
bits of audio, video, cuts, pans and the like. It is these components rather
the product in its entirety that leads to particular effects through the prism
of attention that thereby directs cognitive processing.
Conceptualizing the product in each of these two fashions implies significant
differences in how the product will gain the attention of the media consumer
that, in turn, could affect cognitive processing and thus lead to differential
effects. Put another way, the way the product is conceptualized can have
profound effects on how a researcher studies media effects. As Kuhn (1970)
posited, researchers under these different paradigms will not only see
completely different things, but may regard the same piece of information as
either important or irrelevant as the case may be. They are, in a sense,
talking in different languages. Thus, the way a researcher regards the product
significantly influences how that researcher views both attention getting and
the cognitive processing of the product.
Attention Getting. Cognitive processing occurs within what Wilbur Schramm
(1971, pp.24- 25) called "the 'black box' of the central nervous system." In
order for such processing of a media product to occur, attention must be
directed toward the product. There are two kinds of attention that are of
interest here. First, there is attention in the sense of attending to one media
as opposed to another or to no media at all. This is the type of attention that
is usually examined in survey research with self-report questions (Chaffee &
Schleuder, 1986). This type of attention can be termed inter-media attention,
or as attention-over-time. We are not particularly interested in this type of
attention in our model as we assume that individuals have already chosen to
consume a particular media product, thus making this issue moot.
The second type of attention is the kind that takes place within a media
experience. Thus, for example, while watching a television program, research
has demonstrated that attention tends to vary with various aspects of the
content and the structure (e.g., Anderson & Burns, 1991 Geiger & Reeves, 1993;
Lang, 1990; Reeves, Thorson, & Schleuder, 1986; Thorson, & Lang, 1992). The
finding that attention was variable may seen mundane but for many years it was
simply treated as a given; for example in the Hovland studies (e.g., Hovland,
1954; Hovland, 1959; Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953; Hovland, Lumsdaine &
Sheffield, 1965; Hovland, Mandell, Campbell, Brock, Luchins, Cohen, McGuire,
Janis, Feirabend & Anderson, 1957; Hovland, & Weiss, 1951), if attitude change
resulted from exposure to a message than attention was simply inferred (see also
McGuire, 1968, 1985, 1989).
Attention from this perspective can be subdivided into two sub-types:
controlled attention and automatic attention. Controlled attention occurs when
a viewer deliberately attends to a media product which in turn leads to
content-driven with top-down cognitive processing. However, such attention has
limited capacity. Also, currently active constructs (Higgins, 1996; Bargh,
1996; Kruglanski, 1996) can lead to selective attention to differential aspects
of the viewing experience. This can occur through priming (Higgins, 1996; Jo &
Berkowitz, 1994; Sonbatosamu & Fazio, 1991). In contrast, automatic processing
is generally believed to have no capacity limits. It occurs generally as a
result of a data-driven or bottom-up processing. In other words, the stimulus
leads the viewer to increase his/her attention through orienting responses,
startle responses, and the like (e.g., Geiger & Reeves, 1993; Lang, 1990;
Reeves, Thorson, & Schleuder, 1986; Thorson, & Lang, 1992). It should be noted
that many things which initially require controlled attention, eventually become
automatic with practice. It is unclear at this point what aspects of responding
to a particular medium are completely automatic or completely controlled or a
combination of the two.
Before continuing the discussion concerning the factors that cause attention to
achieved in different manners, however, it is necessary to consider factors
outside of the media experience that can influence this process. First, there
are dispositional factors. These may include elements such as socio-economic
status as well as an individual's need for cognition (Cacioppo, Petty & Morris,
1983; Priester & Petty, 1995), certainty orientation (Sorrentino et al, 1988),
need for cognitive closure (Kruglanski, 1996), and degree of self-monitoring
(Snyder, 1974, 1987). These dispositional factors can also include other
cognitive constructs for which an individual has easy mental access. According
to Higgins (1996) and Bargh (1996) individuals can develop "chronically
accessible" constructs that influence the manner in which attention is directed.
Further, the communication norms that are used within families may also lead, in
addition to the patterns set out above, to dispositional tendencies in the
processing of media products. For example, individuals from "concept-oriented"
families may tend to engage in more cognitive processing than those from
"socio-oriented" families (Thompson, Pingree, Hawkins & Draves, 1991).
Second, there are situational factors that can influence attention. Such
factors can include mood, emotion and arousal. For example, mood research has
found that individuals' evaluative judgments tend to be more positive when they
are in a happy as opposed to a sad mood (Schwarz & Clore, 1996; Clore, Schwarz &
Conway, 1994; Forgas, 1992). This finding has been obtained in a wide variety
of settings such as satisfaction with consumer goods (e.g., Isen, Shalker, Clark
& Karp, 1978) to satisfaction with one's life (e.g., Schwarz & Clore, 1983).
According to the feelings-as- information approach, these results occur because
an individuals' affective responses to a target serves as a useful source of
information when evaluating that target (Schwarz and Clore, 1996). For example,
in Schwarz and Clore (1983) participants reported higher life satisfaction on
sunny days than on rainy days but this effect was eliminated when the
experimenter mentioned the weather. Moreover, mood has also been found to have
generalized effects on evaluative judgments even when they cross-over content
domains. Thus, the content that induced the mood does not need to related to
the content of the judgment (Johnson & Tversky, 1983). For example, if a
positive is induced by a feel-good film about overcoming an illness, that mood
will also positively affect judgments concerning risks of crime, accidents,
etc... (Schwarz & Clore, 1996). Mood therefore acts as primer (Higgins, 1996):
positive moods prime positive thoughts while negative mood will prime negative
The importance of considering these dispositional and situational factors is
that to understand the specific effects of media content the moderating force of
these factors must be taken into account. For example, although in media
studies researchers often employ ordinary least-squares regression, they fail to
institute the requisite controls necessary to ensure their models contain no
specification bias or error (Gujarati, 1995). If such bias exists in a model,
then validity of the estimated regression is extremely questionable, in part,
because the coefficients are spuriously high (Gujarati, 1995). In particular,
although demographic controls such as age, sex, race, parental or household
income, parent's highest educational level, and parents' occupational status are
usually included, moderating variables, which would include dispositional and
situation factors, are generally excluded. Because it is not possible to know
in advance the effects of demographic control variables and the other potential
moderating variables without including them in the analyses, a prudent approach
would be always to include them. The time involved in doing so is negligible
(assuming, of course, they were measured in the first instance) but the
potential benefits are large in that it helps to ensure an adequately specified
model that thereby avoids specification bias.
The product as data. Having considered these ancillary issues, it is possible
to return to the issue of product conceptualization. First, if the product is
seen strictly as a data then it is the product, through its particular data,
that influences an individual's attention. This is so because the data can be
seen as stimuli that act as stimulants (Higgins, 1996) tot focus attention on
the various aspects of the message and that can in many circumstances lead to
more in-depth processing in the recipients "black box." For this reason,
attention that is delivered to the product is said to be non-strategic. And it
is also for this reason that recipients are seen as passive, lazy organisms
(McGuire, 1968) or cognitive misers (Taylor, 1981): they need not consciously do
anything during the media consumption experience. Instead, they merely have to
let the data direct their attention as required.
For example, Reeves, Thorson and their associates (e.g., Geiger & Reeves,
1993; Lang, 1990; Reeves, Thorson, & Schleuder, 1986; Thorson, & Lang, 1992)
have shown that structural features can lead to both increases or decreases in
attention when viewing television. These features include zooms, cuts, etc...
They have found that the inclusion of such features can increase intra-media
attention through the institution of orienting responses, which is essentially a
reaction to novel or surprising stimuli. These responses lead people to focus
more attention toward the source of the reaction, in this case the television.
Lang (1990) has also shown that structural features such as cuts (switching from
one camera to another) increase heart rate as well as institute orienting
responses thereby leading to increases in attention. Likewise, Anderson and his
colleagues found shifts in attention toward a television program, as measured by
"looks" at the screen, when the content changed via cuts to different related or
unrelated scenes (e.g., Anderson & Burns, 1991; also Hawkins, Yong-Ho & Pingree,
1991; Hawkins, Tapper, Bruce, Pingree, 1995). However, although these results
sem to suggest a promising avenue of research, evaluation must be guarded since,
as Reeves, Thorson and Schleuder (1986) pointed out in their initial
investigation, viewers become accustomed to the structural and the response
(e.g., in terms of increased attention) is mitigated. After a lifetime of
viewing therefore, the effects of such structural features may be nil.
The Product as Container. The alternative conceptualization of a media product
is to regard it as a "container." Under such a conceptualization, both the
product can exert influence via automatic attentional mechanisms on the
individual or the individual can exert influence through controlled attention.
In the first circumstance, the container can contain semantic information that
can act as a prime for other related constructs (Higgins, 1996). Generally,
such primes will be semantic in nature but this is not necessarily the case.
Further, such priming can occur regardless of the conscious awareness of the
product recipient (Bargh, 1996; Higgins, 1996). Indeed, in many instances
subliminal priming is more powerful because if priming recipients become aware
of the prime, it may lead to a contrast effect (Bargh, 1996; Higgins, 1996).
There are two theories in mass communication that rely implicitly on such
notions of priming. According to the cultivation model, the messages contained
in television programming, taken at the macroscopic level, represent a prevalent
societal force that is responsible for the transmission of mass culture, always
negative, to passive recipients (e.g., Gerbner & Gross, 1976; Gerbner, Gross,
Morgan, & Signorielli, 1994; Signorielli & Morgan, 1996). In order for this
transmission to occur, television messages must necessarily prime complementary
constructs in individual viewers such that all viewers would generally become
chronic on the same construct, such as fear of crime. Further, the differential
effects in cultivation can be explained through construct accessibility:
television messages resonate strongly with those who are chronically accessible
on the construct being primed by television whereas mainstreaming would occur
where television, through priming, leads certain constructs that would otherwise
be dormant to become chronic. A similar type of process presents itself with
agenda-setting research (e.g., McCombs & Bell, 1996; McCombs & Shaw, 1972).
Thus, news in any form creates agendas in its consumers. This is likely the
case because the news merely primes certain constructs, thereby making them more
chronic such that when these consumers are asked to rank issue importance, they
choose those that have been most frequently primed by the news media.
It is also possible to consider attentional processes from the opposite pole
under the container perspective to media products. Here, the media consumer is
in control of the attention that is strategically directed toward the product
container. To borrow the language of psychology, in this case the container is
a stimulus that acts as a target rather than as a stimulant (Higgins, 1996).
Thus, the type of processing that occurs would be top-down and theory-driven in
orientation. The most well-know mass communication theory that applies this
orientation is the uses-and-gratifications approach where consumers consciously
and strategically choose to direct attention toward a particular medium, at the
expense of other functional alternatives, to gain particular gratifications
(Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch, 1974; Rayburn 1996).
A Container Versus Data Interaction. Studies have also shown that there is an
interaction between content and structure. For example, Thorson and Lang (1989)
showed that orienting responses occasioned by the inclusion of a video-graphic
in a lecture increased learning when the content of the lecture was familiar to
the viewer but decreased learning when the content was unfamiliar. The authors
speculated that the reason for this was because those unfamiliar with the
material were using up cognitive capacity in an attempt to understand the
message and the capacity needed to orient to the video-graphic took away from
the capacity to the understand the message.
This would also be the case with compelling television images, especially those
that violate expectancies (Olsen, Roese & Zanna, 1996). Such violations tend
to be better-remembered because they can grab a viewer's attention. For
example, Newhagen and Reeves (1992) found that the inclusion of such images in
television news led to retroactive interference with the material that came
before the image, proactive facilitation for information that came after the
image, a memory for unsemantic material during the image itself (e.g., screams
and hells, as opposed to semantically coherent content).
Frames 3 and 4: Cognitive Processing and Post-Exposure Effects
Once attention has been garnered to the media product, whether through the
container or the data orientation, that attention will tend to focus the "black
box" on the semantic content of the media product. This is clearly the case
under the container orientation where the semantic content is priming individual
consumers or where the consumer is strategically seeking out semantic content.
The matter is not so clear under the data orientation because it is the
particular bits of data rather than the content as a whole that leads to
attention. Still, the interaction that was set out above implies that
continuing importance of the semantic content.
The question then becomes whether the media product will have any effect on its
consumers either on a one-time basis or over the long term. Because media
products, in almost all cases, contain semantic content that has a variety of
messages embedded within it, the ultimate issue of media effects must rest on
the type and number of product-specific messages to which individual consumers
idiosyncratically yield. Ultimately, then, the major issue is yielding
(Fishbein, 1967) because such yielding is necessary to achieve attitude change.
Attitude change toward or against the advocated position is the result of
yielding; if there is no yielding there is no attitude change. Attitudes can be
defined as an individual's global and enduring positive or negative evaluations
of other people, objects or issues (Petty, Baker & Gleicher, 1991). These
evaluations are based on three general classes of information: cognitive,
affective/emotional, and/or information concerning past behaviors or behavioral
intentions (Zanna & Rempel, 1988). The importance of considering attitudes, and
attitude change rests on the assumption that attitudes are important mediating
variables between the acquisition of new knowledge and behavioral change (Petty,
Baker & Gleicher, 1991). Thus, for example, if television, through its vivid
product-specific presentation of the above information classes, does have any
effects upon its viewers, it may be the result of attitude change that, in turn,
leads to behavioral alterations.
Prior to the advent of modern dual-processing theories of persuasion, attitude
change was thought to occur through simple message learning. Accordingly, first
Hovland (1954, 1959) and then McGuire (e.g., 1985, 1989) argued that, for
effective social influence, a rather long sequence of steps was required.
Because the main method of influence was, and still is, messages, those steps
were separated into two stages: input and output. On the input side there were
source, message, recipient, channel and context factors while the outputs
included exposure and attention, interest, comprehension and acquisition,
yielding and memory, retrieval, decision and action, and reinforcement and
consolidation (Petty, Baker & Gleicher, 1991; Petty & Priester, 1994). Thus,
under this model, a person first had to be exposed to a message, understand what
was being said, yield to it, and then pass the information into long-term
memory. This model posited that if information was received into the long-term
memory D if it was simply learned D then the information would affect an
attitude change. Accordingly, this model of persuasion has been labeled the
message learning approach (MLA). It has been tested primarily through a search
for correlations between message recall and attitude change (Petty & Priester,
The MLA, however, has been the subject of at least three major criticisms.
First, although the sequence steps were first seen as related, they are now seen
as conditional probabilities (McGuire, 1989). For example, if each step has a
60% chance of occurring then the probability of the first six steps occurring is
0.606 or only 5% (Petty & Priester, 1994). Further, the steps may even be
independent (Petty, Baker & Gleicher, 1991). As a result, just because messages
have been understood, there is no guarantee that either learning or attitude
change will result. Indeed, the relationship between recall and attitude change
has been found to be weak (Eagly & Chaiken, 1984; Greenwald, 1968; McGuire,
1985; Petty & Cacioppo, 1981; Petty & Priester, 1994). It is now recognized
that learning can occur in the absence of attitude change and that attitude
change can occur without learning (Petty, Baker & Gleicher, 1991). Second, even
if a person were aware that information was being presented, such an awareness
cannot be seen as indicative that any aspect of what has been seen or heard will
leave anything more than a fleeting impression on the recipient (Petty, Baker &
Gleicher, 1991). Awareness is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for
attitude change. The final criticism is related to the former: this model sees
individual recipients as passive receivers who merely absorb messages, as
delivered, without any cognitive processing. Thus, this model does not account
for idiosyncratic yielding. Like early theories of mass communication, the MLA
had both bullet- and hypodermic needle-like notions.
The persistent criticisms of the MLA were, in part, responsible for the
development of the cognitive response model of persuasion (Petty & Priester,
1994). This model was designed to meet the criticisms of the MLA, to move away
from the weak recall-attitude change link, and, at the same time, to provide a
more plausible explanation for yielding. It attempted to do this by reversing
the notion that individual receivers were passive. Instead, they were seen as
active participants in the message reception process: as opposed to merely
receiving messages as is, individuals idiosyncratically generating cognitive
responses to messages. It was the memory of those responses rather than the
content per se that was said to be responsible for any yielding and consequent
attitude change (Perloff & Brock, 1980; Petty & Priester, 1994). Although the
cognitive response model answered one of the primary criticisms directed at the
MLA, namely, that individual message recipients were passive, it was obvious
that such recipients were not active at all times. Equally obvious was the fact
that some recipients did yield to messages while in a passive state. As a
result, there were instances when yielding should not have been, but was,
occurring due to the non-activity of message recipients.
Consequently, there emerged two dual-processing models. Petty, Cacioppo and
their associates developed the elaboration likelihood model of persuasion (ELM)
to account for situations when recipients were active and when they were
passive. Their dual-processing model holds that yielding can occur as a result
of two distinct routes to persuasion: the central and the peripheral routes
(Petty, Baker & Gleicher, 1991; Petty & Cacioppo, 1984; Petty, Cacioppo &
Goldman, 1981; Petty & Priester, 1994). Similarly, Chaiken and her colleagues
forwarded the heuristic-systematic model (HSM) of persuasion, (Chaiken, 1980,
1987; Chaiken, Liberman, & Eagly, 1989; Chaiken, Wood, & Eagly, 1996; Eagly, &
Chaiken, 1984). Although the two models are not totally identical they are
often very similar. Thus, the HSM also posits two routes to persuasion: the
systematic and heuristic. The systematic route, which is analogous to the
central route of the ELM, occurs when the recipient has both motivation and
ability to process the message. The heuristic route is employed when the
recipient is lacking in either motivation and/or ability. A heuristic can be
simply described as a rule of thumb that individuals can use to obviate the need
for detailed processing. Because the ELM is broad enough to subsume heuristics
as one of the potential peripheral cues, it may be applicable to more situations
and will therefore be used here.
The central route to persuasion occurs when the receiver has both the
motivation AND the ability to engage in effortful cognitive activity "whereby
the person draws upon prior experience and knowledge to carefully scrutinize all
of the information relevant to determining the central merits of the position
advocated" (Petty & Priester, 1994, p.98). The three general classes of
information that can be used to determine the position's merits are cognitive,
affective/emotional, and/or information concerning past behaviors or behavioral
intentions D the same three classes of information that make up attitudes (Zanna
& Rempel, 1988). The result of this effortful processing is the elicitation of
either favorable or unfavorable thoughts (e.g., elaborations) toward the
subject-matter of the message. To the extent that positive elaborations are
elicited, the more likely it will be that attitude change occurs in the
direction advocated by the message. The end product, therefore, is an attitude
that tends to be well-defined, persistent, enduring, integrated into the
individual's cognitive structure, and predictive of behavior (Chaiken, 1980;
Cialdini, Petty & Cacioppo, 1981; Cook & Flay, 1978; Pallak, Murroni & Koch,
1983; Petty & Cacioppo, 1984; Petty, Cacioppo & Goldman, 1981).
Under the peripheral route there is no effortful evaluation of the message.
Instead, where receivers either lack motivation AND/OR ability, they will tend
to associate "the attitude issue or object with ... positive or negative cues
or make a simple inference about the merits of the advocated position based on
various simple cues in the persuasion context" (Petty & Cacioppo, 1984, p.70);
that context including elements both internal and external to the message.
Thus, these cues can be contained in the message itself (e.g., source honesty:
Priester & Petty, 1995), the environment (e.g., distraction: Petty, Wells &
Brock, 1976), or be self-generated (e.g., mood: Wegener, Petty & Smith, 1995).
To the extent that positive elaborations are elicited by the cues, the more
likely it will be that attitude change occurs in the direction advocated by the
message. However, because of the lack of effortful processing, the end result
are attitudes that are not well-defined, persistent, enduring, integrated into
the individual's cognitive schema, nor very predictive of behavior (Chaiken,
1980; Cialdini, Petty & Cacioppo, 1981; Cook & Flay, 1978; Pallak, Murroni &
Koch, 1983; Petty & Cacioppo, 1984; Petty, Cacioppo & Goldman, 1981).
One of the key elements of the ELM is that any variable can play a variety of
roles depending on the particular circumstances of the persuasion context.
Thus, those elements that are self-generated, found within a message, or in the
immediate environment can lead to the implementation of either route to
persuasion. For example, where there is high personal involvement, due perhaps
to personal relevance (Petty, Cacioppo & Goldman, 1981) or self-referencing
(Burnkrant & Unnava, 1979), the receiver should employ the central route. As
with the discussion earlier concerning the obtaining of attention, dispositional
elements are also important here. Thus, individuals who exhibit a high need for
cognition will generally process centrally (Cacioppo, Petty & Morris, 1983;
Priester & Petty, 1995) while those who have a high-certainty orientation will
generally process peripherally (Sorrentino et al, 1988). The need for cognitive
closure (Kruglanski, 1996) and the degree of self-monitoring (Snyder, 1974,
1987) should play a similar role. Likewise, where a person is processing
centrally, he/she will be considering the message-related variables as
arguments; here, arguments can include anything from the message content itself
to source factors. By contrast, under peripheral processing those same
message-related factors will work as simple cues, meaning they will provide
clues as to how to process the message without the need to elaborate on it.
After exposure to media products, then, consumers may have centrally processed
the explicit and implicit messages contained in the product. In turn, the
cognitive responses generated as a result of that type of processing will have
been incorporated into their cognitive schema and be predictive of behavior. By
contrast, the same viewers will have processed other messages through the
peripheral route. Due to the nature of peripheral processing, however, these
messages will not have been strongly integrated into the viewer's cognitive
schema nor will they be predictive of behavior. Thus, centrally- and
peripherally-processed attitudes are different. However, because of the
effortful nature of central processing and the ease of peripheral processing, it
is likely that any individual viewer will hold many more attitudes based on
peripheral processing. Nevertheless, despite the plentiful array of
peripheral-processed attitudes, any substantial effect from media consumption
must be a result of attitudes that are derived through the central processing of
messages since they are the ones predictive of behavior.
Further, because peripherally-based attitudes are weak, they can be more easily
replaced by further cognitive processing if that processing were done centrally.
At any point in time, an individual may have a peripheral-based attitude based
on exposure to a media product containing topic X. However, one viewing session
with a message containing topic X that is processed centrally could replace
the former with a strong and predictive attitude that is completely different
from the peripherally-processed attitude that was previously held. Accordingly,
in order to measure real media effects, regard must be placed on designing
measurement instruments that can access centrally-derived attitudes, in addition
to or instead of peripherally-derived attitudes, because it is these central
attitudes that will have the most decisive effect on behavior.
Frames 1 to 4: Media Diffusion
As mentioned above, heterophilous interactions are required to ensure that
diffusion of innovations occurs within homophilous communities (Rogers, 1995).
The media give rise to such heterophilous contacts and thereby help to promote
the diffusion of innovations. In this vein, Lerner (1958) argued that mass
communications had the power to be a "mobility multiplier" by increasing the
"psychic mobility" of individuals. This increased mobility would open the world
of innovations to media consumers. This increased mobility comes with all mass
media but it is particularly apparent with television since individuals can both
see and hear the distant locales in the comfort of their own homes. Indeed,
television tends to contain such a degree of realism that many viewers actually
engage in parasocial interaction with the characters they meet on their screens
(Antecol, 1997; Horton & Wohl, 1956/1976).
The main ability of television is to bypass traditional barriers of information
between heterophilous communities. According to Meyrowitz (1985, p.125), "Those
aspects of group identity, socialization, and hierarchy that were once dependent
on physical locations and the special experiences available in them have been
altered by the electronic media." For example, individuals within the same
socio-economic and homophilous group generally only have access to similar
kinds information. It is not usually possible for individuals within such
communities to have access to the information of another heterophilous
community. However, television bypasses the traditional boundaries that kept
the two tiers separate, thereby allowing each to have access to the previously
"private" information. Such information forms the basis of innovations that can
then spread between heterophilous communities.
As an example, suppose it is h1 that is receiving the media product.
Regardless of whether that product is conceptualized as a container or as a
data, it may cause h1 to focus his/her attention on the product, thereby
creating the opportunity for more in depth processing within the "black box." If
the content of the product represents new information that was previously
unknown to h1 or his community, and if that message was centrally processed,
then h1 would have developed a strong, centrally-based attitude concerning that
message. It is possible, then, that h1 could then take this "heterophilous"
information back to his homophilous community and thereby diffuse the
innovation. In this manner, the media can act as significant change agents.
The Westley-MacLean model was an early attempt to integrate theories of
intrapersonal and interpersonal communication with mass communication. Our
integration effort is very much in their spirit of bringing communication
researchers together. In keeping with this spirit, we have attempted to provide
a model that explains the process of mass communication within its social
context, one that integrates quite different theories from a number of
disciplines. Our purpose was to address the criticisms or major flaws in
existing theories, almost all of which focus on only one or more parts of the
mass media process (e.g., messages, gatekeepers, effects, attitude formats). In
so doing, we hope to have provide a new unified manner in which to regard the
communication process, a process that will become increasingly important as we
head for the year 2000. ENDNOTES
Anderson, D. R., & Bryant, J. (1983). Research on children's television
viewing. In J. Bryant, & D. R. Anderson (Eds.), Children's
understanding of television: Research on attention and comprehension
(pp.331-354). New York: Academic Press.
Anderson, D. R., & Burns, J. (1991). Paying attention to television. In
J. Bryant, & D. Zillman (Eds.), Responding to the Screen: Reception and
Reaction Processes (pp.3-25). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Antecol, M. (1997a, Aug.). Learning from television: Parasocial
interaction and affective learning. Paper presented to the Communication
Theory and Methodology Division at the 80th Annual AEJMC Conference,
Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Rokeach, M., & Grube, J. W. (1984). The great
American values test: Influencing behavior and belief through television.
New York: Free Press.
Bandura, A. (1994). Social cognitive theory of mass communication. In J.
Bryant & D. Zillman (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research
(pp.61-90). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Bargh, J. A.. (1996). Automaticity in social psychology. In E. T.
Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic
principles (pp.169-183). New York: Guilford Press.
Berger, C. R. (1996). Interpersonal communication. In M. B. Salwen &
D. W. Stacks (Eds.), An integrated approach to theory and research
(pp.277-296). Mahwah, NJ: LEA.
Berlo, D. (1960). The process of communication: An introduction to theory
and practice. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.
Bleske, G. L. (1991). Ms. Gates takes over: An updated version of a 1949
case study. Newspaper Research Journal, 12, 88-97.
Burnkrant, R. & Unnava, R. (1989). Self-referencing: A strategy for
increasing processing of message content. Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, 15, 628-638.
Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., & Morris (1983). Effects of need for
cognition on message evaluation, recall, and persuasion. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 805-818.
Chaffee, S. H., & Berger, C. R. (1987). What communication scientists
do. In C. R. Berger & S. H. Chaffee (Eds.), Handbook of communication
science (pp.99-123). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Chaffee, S. H., & Schleuder, J. (1986). Measurement and effects of
attention to media news. Human Communication Research, 13, 76-107.
Chaffee, S. H., McLeod, J. M., & Wackman, D. (1973). Family
communication patterns and adolescent political participation. In J.
Dennis (Ed.), Socialization to politics: A reader (pp.349-364). New York:
Chaiken, S. (1980). Heuristic versus systemic information processing and
the use of source versus message cues in persuasion. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 39, 752-766.
Chaiken, S. (1987). The heuristic model of persuasion. In M. P. Zanna,
J. M. Olson, & C. P. Herman (Eds.), Social influence: The Ontario
symposium (Vol. 5, pp.3-39). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Chaiken, S., Liberman, A., & Eagly, A. H. (1989). Heuristic and
systematic processing within and beyond the persuasion context. In J. S.
Uleman & J. A. Bargh (Eds.), Unintended thought (pp.212-252). New York:
Chaiken, S., Wood, W., & Eagly, A. H. (1996). Principles of persuasion.
In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of
basic principles (pp.702-742). New York: Guilford Press.
Cialdini, R. B., Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1981). Attitude and
attitude change. In. M. Rosenzweig & L. Porter (Eds.), Annual review of
psychology (Vol. 32). Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.
Cook, T. D., & Flay, B. R. (1978). The temporal persistence of
experimental induced attitude change: An evaluative review. In. L.
Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (vol. 11). New
York: Academic Press.
Dimmick, J., & Coit, P. (1982). Levels of analysis in mass media decision
making: A taxonomy, research strategy and illustrative data analysis.
Communication Research, 9, 3-32.
Eagly, A. H. & Chaiken, S. (1984). Cognitive theories of persuasion. In
L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 17,
pp.268-359). New York: Academic Press.
Ebusu, A. S., & Burgoon, J. K. (1996). Nonverbal communication. In
M.B. Salwen & D. W. Stacks (Eds.), An integrated approach to theory and
research (pp.345-358). Mahwah, NJ: LE
Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Evanston, IL:
Fico, S. (1989, Aug.). The Westley-MacLean model revisited: An extension
of a conceptual model for communication research. Paper presented to the
Theory & Methodology Division at the annual AEJMC convention, Washington, DC.
Fishbein, M. (1967). A behavior theory approach to the relations between
beliefs about an object and attitude toward that object. In M. Fishbein
(Ed.), Readings in attitude theory and measurement (pp.389-399). New York:
Forgas, J. P. (1992). Affect in social judgments and decisions: A
multi-process model. In M. P. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental
social psychology (vol. 25, pp.227-275). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Geiger, S., & Reeves, B. (1993). The effects of scene change and semantic
relatedness on attention to television. Communication Research, 20, 155-175.
Gerbner, G., & Gross, L (1976). Living with television: The violence
profile. Journal of Communication, 26, 182-190.
Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1994). Growing up
with television: The cultivation perspective. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann
(Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (pp.17-41).
Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1986). Living with
television: The dynamics of the cultivation process. In J. Bryant & D.
Zillman (Eds.), Perspectives on media effects (pp.17-40). Hillsdale, NJ:
Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1980). Aging with
television: Images on television drama and conceptions of social reality.
Journal of Communication, 30(1), 37-47.
Goss, B. (1996). Intrapersonal communication. In M.B. Salwen & D. W.
Stacks (Eds.), An integrated approach to theory and research (pp.335-344).
Mahwah, NJ: LEA.
Greenwald, A. G. (1968). Cognitive learning, cognitive response to
persuasion, and attitude change. In A. G. Greenwald, T. Brock, & T.
Ostrom (Eds.), Psychological foundations of attitudes (pp.147- 170). New
York: Academic Press.
Gujarati, D. (1995). Basic Econometrics (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
Harmon, M. D. (1989). Mr. Gates goes electronic: The what and why
questions in local TV news. Journalism Quarterly, 66, 857-863.
Hawkins, R. P., Yong-Ho, K., & Pingree, S. (1991). The ups and down of
attention to television. Communication Research, 18, 53-76.
Hawkins, R. P., Tapper, J., Bruce, L., & Pingree, S. (1995). Strategic
and nonstrategic explanations for attentional inertia. Communication
Research, 22, 188-206.
Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York:
Higgins, E. T. (1996). Knowledge activation: Accessibility,
applicability, and salience. In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.),
Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (pp.133-168). New York:
Horton, D., & Wohl, R. R. (1956/1976). Mass communication and para-social
interaction. In J. E. Combs and M. W. Mansfield (Eds.), Drama in life:
The uses of communication in society (pp.212-227). New York: Hastings House.
Hovland, C. I. (1954). Effects of the mass media of communication. In
G. Lindzey (Ed.), Handbook of social psychology, (Vol. 2, pp.1062-1103).
Cambridge, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Hovland, C. I. (1959). Reconciling conflicting results from derived from
experimental and survey studies of attitude change. American Psychologist,
Hovland, C. I., Janis, I. L., & Kelley, H. H. (1953). Communication
and persuasion. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Hovland, C. I., Lumsdaine, A. A., & Sheffield. (1965). Experiments on
mass communication. New York: John Wiley.
Hovland, , C. I., Mandell, E., Campbell, E. H., Brock, T., Luchins, A.
S., Cohen, A. R., McGuire, W. J., Janis, I. L., Feirabend, R. L. &
Anderson, N. H. (1957). The order of presentation in persuasion. New
Haven: Yale University Press..
Hovland, C. I., & Weiss, W. (1951). The influence of source credibility
on communication effectiveness. Public Opinion Quarterly, 15, 633-650.
Isen, A. M., Shalker, T. E., Clark, M. S., & Karp, L. (1978). Affect,
accessibility of material in memory, and behavior: A cognitive loop? Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 36, 1-12.
Jo, E., & Berkowitz, L. (1994). A priming effect analysis of media
influences: An update. In J. Bryant & D. Zillman (Eds.), Media effects:
Advances in theory and research (pp.43-60). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Johnson, E., & Tversky, A. (1983). Affect, generalization, and the
perception of risk. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 20-31.
Katz, E., Blumler, J. G., & Gurevitch, M. (1974). Utilization of mass
communication by the individual. In J. G. Blumler and E. Katz, (Eds.),
The uses of mass communication: Current perspectives on gratifications
research (pp.19-32). Beverly Hills, CA.: Sage.
Klapper, J. T. (1960). The effects of mass communication. New York: Free
Kruglanski, A. W. (1996). Motivated social cognition: Principles of the
interface. In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology:
Handbook of basic principles (pp.493-520). New York: Guilford Press.
Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions (2nd ed.).
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lang, A. (1990). Involuntary attention and physiological arousal evoked by
structural features and emotional content in TV commercials. Journal of
Communication, 17, 275-299.
Lasswell, H. D. (1948). The structure and function of communication in
society. In L. Bryson (Ed.), The communication of ideas. New York: Harper
Lerner, D. (1958). The passing of traditional society. Chicago: Free
Lull, J. (1980). Family communication patterns and the social uses of
television. Communication Research, 7, 319-334.
McCombs, M., & Bell, T. (1996). The agenda-setting role of mass
communication. In M. B. Salwen & D. W. Stacks (Eds.), An integrated
approach to communication theory and research (pp.93-110). Mahwah, NJ: LEA.
McCombs, M., & Shaw, D. (1972). The agenda-setting function of the mass
media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 36, 176-185.
McGuire, W. J. (1989). Theoretical foundations of campaigns. In R. E.
Rice & C. K. Atkin (Eds.), Public communication campaigns (2nd ed.,
pp.43-65). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
McGuire, W. J. (1985). Attitudes and attitude change. In G. Lindzey &
E. Aronson (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (3rd ed., Vol. 2,
pp.233-346). New York: Random House.
McGuire, W. J. (1968). Personality and susceptibility to social
influence. In E. F. Borgatta & W. W. Lambert (Eds.), Handbook of
personality theory and research (pp. 1130-1187). Chicago: Rand McNally.
McLeod, J. M., & Chaffee, S. H. (1972). The construction of social
reality. In J. Tedeshi (Ed.), The social influence process (pp.50-99).
McLeod, J, M., Atkin, C. K., & Chaffee, S. H. (1972). Adolescents,
parents and television use: Self-report and other-report measures from the
Wisconsin sample. In G. A. Comstock & E. A. Rubinstein (Eds.),
Television and social behavior (pp. 173-238). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Meyrowitz, J. (1985). No sense of place: The impact of electronic media on
social behavior. New York: Oxford University Press.
Newhagen, J. E. & Reeves, B. (1992). The evening's bad news: Effects of
compelling negative television news images on memory. Journal of
Communication, 42(2), 25-41.
Newcomb, T.M. (1953). An approach to the study of communication acts.
Psychological Review, 60, 393- 404.
Noelle-Newmann, E. (1973). Return the concept of powerful mass media. In
H. Eguchi & K. Sata (Eds.), Studies of broadcasting: An international
annual of broadcasting science (pp.67-112). Tokyo: Nippon Hoso Kyokai.
Osgood, C. E. (1954). Psycholinguistics: A survey of theory and research
problems. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 49, Morton Prince
Pan, Z., & McLeod, J. M. (1991). Multilevel analysis in mass
communication research. Communication Research 18, 140-173.
Pallak, S. R., Murroni, E., Koch, J. (1983). Communicator attractiveness
and expertise, emotional versus rational appeals, and persuasion. Social
Cognition, 2, 122-141.
Perloff, R. M., & Brock, T. C. (1980). And thinking makes it so:
Cognitive responses to persuasion. In M. Roloff & G. Miller (Eds.),
Persuasion: New directions in theory and research (pp.67-99). Beverly
Hills, CA: Sage.
Petty, R. E., & Baker, S. M., & Gleicher, F. (1991). Attitudes and Drug
Abuse prevention: Implications of the elaboration likelihood model of
persuasion. In L. Donohew, H. Sypher, & W. Bukowski (Eds.), Persuasive
communication and drug abuse prevention (pp.71-90). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1981). Attitudes and persuasion:
Classic and contemporary approaches. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown.
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1984). The effects of involvement on
responses to argument quantity and quality: Central and peripheral routes to
persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46, 69-81.
Petty, R. E., Cacioppo, J. T., & Goldman R. (1981). Personal involvement
as a determinant of argument-based persuasion. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology, 41, 847-855.
Petty, R. E., & Priester, J. R. (1994). Mass media attitude change:
Implications of the elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. J. Bryant
& D. Zillman, (Eds.). Media effects: Advances in theory and research
(pp.91-122). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Petty, R. E., Wells, G. L., & Brock, T. C. (1976). Distraction can
enhance or reduce yielding to propaganda. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 34, 874-884.
Priester, J. R., & Petty, R. E. (1995). Source attributions and
persuasion: Perceived honesty as a determinant of message scrutiny.
Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin, 6, 637-654.
Rayburn, J. D. (1996). Uses and gratifications. In M.B. Salwen & D.
W. Stacks (Eds.), An integrated approach to theory and research
(pp.145-163). Mahwah, NJ: LEA.
Reeves, B. (1989). Theories about news and theories about cognition:
Arguments for a more radical separation. American Behavioral Scientist, 33,
Reeves, B., Thorson, E., & Schleuder, J. (1986). Attention to television:
Psychological theories and chronometric measures. In J. Bryant & D.
Zillman (Eds.), Perspectives on Media Effects (pp.251- 279). Hillsdale NJ:
Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th ed.). New York: Free
Rogers, E. M., & Singhal, A. (1996). Diffusion of innovations. In M.B.
Salwen & D. W. Stacks (Eds.), An integrated approach to theory and research
(pp.409-421). Mahwah, NJ: LEA.
Salwen, M. B., & Stacks, D. W. (Eds.), An integrated approach to theory
and research. Mahwah, NJ: LEA.
Sanbonmatsu, D. M., & Fazio, R. H. (1991). Construct accessibility:
Determinants, consequences, and implications for the media. In J. Bryant,
& D. Zillman (Eds.), Responding to the Screen: Reception and Reaction
Processes (pp.45-62). Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Schramm, W. (1971). The nature of communication between humans. In W.
Schramm & D. F. Roberts (Eds.), The processes and effects of mass
communication (rev. ed.). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Schramm, W. (1954). How communication works. In W. Schramm (Ed.), The
process and effects of mass communication (ch.1). Urbana: University of
Schwarz, N., & Clore, G. L. (1996). Feelings and phenomenal experiences.
In E. T. Higgins & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of
basic principles (pp.433-465). New York: Guilford Press.
Schwarz, N., & Clore, G. L. (1983). Mood, misattribution, and judgments
of well-being: Informative and directive functions of affective states.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 513-523.
Shannon, C., & Weaver, W. (1949). The mathematical theory of
communication. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Shoemaker, P. J. (1996). Media gatekeeping. In M.B. Salwen & D. W.
Stacks (Eds.), An integrated approach to theory and research (pp.79-91).
Mahwah, NJ: LEA.
Shoemaker, P. J. (1987). Building a theory of news content: A synthesis
of current approaches. Journalism Monographs, 103.
Signorielli, N. & Morgan, M. (1996). Cultivation analysis: Research and
practice. In M. B. Salwen & D. W. Stacks (Eds.), An integrated approach
to communication theory and research (pp.111-126) Mahway, NJ: LEA.
Snider, P. B. (1967). Mr. Gates revisited: A 1966 version of the 1949
case study. Journalism Quarterly, 44, 419-427.
Snyder, M. (1974). Self-monitoring of expressive behavior. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology, 30, 526-537.
Snyder, M. (1987). Public appearances, private realities: The psychology
of self-monitoring. New York: Freeman.
Sorrentino, et al. (1988). Uncertainty orientation and persuasion:
Individual differences in the effects of personal relevance on social
judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 357-371.
Taylor, S. E. (1981). The interface of cognitive and social psychology.
In J. E. Harvey (Ed.), Cognition, social behavior, and the environment.
Hillsdale, NJ: LEA.
Tims, A. R., & Masland, J. L. (1985). Measurement of family
communication patterns. Communication Research, 21, 35-57.
Thompson, M., Pingree, S., Hawkins R. P., & Draves, C. (1991). Long-term
norms and cognitive structures as shapers of television viewing activity.
Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 35, 319-334.
Thorson, E. & Lang, A. (1992). The effects of television videographics
and lecture familiarity on adult cardiac orienting responses and memory.
Communication Research, 19, 346-369.
Thorson, E. (1989). Processing television commercials. In B. Dervin, L.
Grossberg, B. J. O'Keefe, & E. Wartella (Eds.), Rethinking communication,
Vol. 2: Paradigm exemplars (pp.397-410). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Wegener, D. T., Petty, R. E., & Smith, S. M. (1995). Positive mood can
increase or decrease message scrutiny: The hedonic contingency view of mood
and message processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69,
Westley, B. H., & McLean, M. S. (1957). A conceptual model for
communications research. Journalism Quarterly, 34, 31-38.
White, D. M. (1950). The 'gatekeeper': A case study in the selection of
news. Journalism Quarterly, 27, 383-390.
Whitney, D. C. (1982). Mass communication studies: Similarity, difference
and levels of analysis. In J. S. Ettema & D. C. Whitney (Eds.),
Individuals in mass media organizations: Creativity and constraint. Beverly
Hills, CA: Sage.
Zanna, M. P., & Rempel, J. K. (1988). Attitudes: A new look at an old
concept. In D. Bar-Tal & A. Kruglanski (Eds.), The social psychology of
knowledge (pp.315-334). New York: Cambridge University Press.
A UNIFIED MODEL OF MASS COMMUNICATION
Because previous models of the communication process did adequately represent
the actual communication experience, there has been a shift in research
attention away from holistic models, to ones that more accurately reflected
various individual elements within a mass mediated experience. The results of
these attempts have disembodied the mass communication process such that there
is no longer a unified manner in which to regard the mediated communication
experience. Although there have been calls for studies that cross levels of
analysis, there has been no recent attempt to synthesize a coherent model of
mass communications that would be suitable for the next century. What follows is
our attempt to synthesize a unified model that will be equally applicable to all
media and be able to incorporate the major theories of mass communications. Our
model contains four distinct elements: societal and organization norms, the
product of the mass communication process, the cognitive processing of the
product, and the post-exposure processes. Each of these particular areas is
A UNIFIED MODEL OF MASS COMMUNICATION
Michael Antecol* and Keith P. Sanders**
School of Journalism
University of Missouri D Columbia
Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: (573) 882-4852
Fax: (573) 884-5302
Running Head: Synthesis 2000
* Doctoral Candidate
[log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask]
Correspondence should be addressed to the first author at the above address.
Submitted to Communication Theory and Methodology Division
to be considered for presentation at the annual AEJMC conference
April 1, 1998
 1 This movement, however, has been incredibly successful in leading to
the development and prolification of a whole host of specialty journals
which in turn has probably led to the granting of far more tenureships than
otherwise would have been the case.
 2 In is interesting that Salwen and Stacks (1996) titled their
compilation reader as an integrated approach to communication. Closer
examination, however, that the book offer no coherent attempt at
integration. Rather, it is merely a collection of stand-alone theories.
 3 It is important to note that an innovation in this sense can mean
anything that is new to a particular homophilous community. Thus, it could
be a piece of machinery, a new way to sow grain, or a simple piece of
 4 It should be pointed that although the inclusion of demographic
controls and other potential moderating variables would certainly help to
reduce specification bias, closer examination of particular areas of
research suggests that even further variables should be included as
controls. For example, because cultivation is concerned with the unique
effects of television upon viewers, then other media-use variables need to
be controlled. It is conceivable that television viewers come to their
estimates and beliefs, not from television, but from exposure to other
media such as movies, newspapers, and newsmagazines. Controls such as
these are generally not included in cultivation studies (e.g., Gerbner &
Gross, 1976; Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorielli, 1994; Gerbner, Gross,
Morgan, & Signorielli, 1986; Signorielli & Morgan, 1996).