AIOU Exam preparation Theories of  Mass Communication- II  (5636)

Mass Communication Semester-III

Important Questions with Answers prepared by Faiza Gul, FRilmi Team (Errors and omissions acceptable) Disclaimer: All Questions and Answers are Based on self assessment and It is only Guess material. To join whatsapp group contact 03068314733

Question . 1 How do the groups we belong to influence our attitudes?/ what are those needs which make people to use mass media?

The groups we belong to play a significant role in shaping our attitudes through various psychological processes. Here are some ways in which group membership can influence our attitudes:

  1. Social Identity Theory: Social Identity Theory suggests that individuals derive a part of their self-concept and self-esteem from the groups to which they belong. When we identify with a particular group, such as a cultural, social, or professional group, we adopt the attitudes, values, and beliefs associated with that group. We may conform to the group’s norms and adopt attitudes that are consistent with those of other group members to maintain a positive social identity.
  2. Conformity: Conformity refers to the tendency to adjust one’s attitudes and behaviors to align with the majority opinion or norms of a group. People often conform to group attitudes to gain acceptance, avoid social rejection, or fit in with the group. This conformity can lead to a change in individual attitudes as they internalize the group’s perspective.
  3. Group Polarization: Group polarization occurs when individuals’ attitudes become more extreme after group discussion or interaction. When people with similar attitudes come together in a group, they tend to reinforce each other’s beliefs and opinions. Through group discussion, individuals may encounter new arguments or persuasive information that strengthens their initial attitudes, resulting in a polarization effect.
  4. Socialization: Group membership involves socialization processes, where individuals learn attitudes, values, and norms through interaction with group members. This socialization can occur through direct communication, observation, and reinforcement. For example, children acquire attitudes and beliefs from their families, schools, and peer groups as they grow and develop.
  5. Group Norms: Groups often establish norms, which are shared expectations for attitudes, behaviors, and values within the group. Adhering to group norms fosters a sense of cohesion and belonging. Group members may conform to these norms to maintain harmony and avoid conflict, which can shape and influence their attitudes.
  6. Group Influence and Persuasion: Within a group, individuals can influence each other’s attitudes through persuasion techniques. Persuasive messages, arguments, and social influence strategies employed by group members can shape and change attitudes. The credibility and status of group members can also impact the persuasive impact on others within the group.

It’s important to note that the influence of group membership on attitudes can vary depending on the individual’s level of identification with the group, the salience of the group in their life, and other individual factors. Additionally, individuals may belong to multiple groups, each with its own set of attitudes and norms, leading to complex interactions and influences on attitudes.

What are those needs which make people to use mass media?

People use mass media for various reasons, driven by their specific needs and motivations. Some common needs that prompt individuals to use mass media include:

  1. Information and Knowledge: People use mass media to satisfy their need for information and knowledge. They seek news updates, educational content, and access to a wide range of topics and perspectives. Mass media platforms such as newspapers, websites, and documentaries serve as valuable sources of information on current events, science, history, health, and more.
  2. Entertainment and Escapism: Mass media offers entertainment and serves as a means of escapism from daily routines and stress. Television shows, movies, music, novels, online videos, and social media platforms provide opportunities for relaxation, enjoyment, and diversion. They allow individuals to immerse themselves in stories, music, or virtual worlds, providing entertainment and a break from reality.
  3. Social Connection and Communication: Mass media enables individuals to connect with others and satisfy their social needs. Social media platforms, online communities, chat forums, and messaging apps facilitate communication, interaction, and the formation of virtual communities. People use these platforms to stay connected with friends and family, share experiences, exchange ideas, and participate in online discussions.
  4. Personal Development and Learning: Mass media can contribute to personal development and learning. Books, documentaries, educational programs, podcasts, and online courses offer opportunities for self-improvement, skill development, and intellectual growth. Individuals use mass media to expand their knowledge, acquire new skills, explore personal interests, and broaden their horizons.
  5. Opinion Formation and Expression: Mass media plays a role in shaping opinions and allows individuals to express their own views. News outlets, editorials, blogs, and social media provide platforms for individuals to engage in discussions, express their perspectives, and participate in public discourse. Mass media enables people to be informed about societal issues, form opinions, and engage in democratic processes.
  6. Emotional Gratification: Mass media can evoke emotions and provide emotional gratification. Films, music, literature, and other media forms have the power to evoke a range of emotions such as joy, excitement, empathy, or sadness. People may seek media content that resonates with their emotions, provides catharsis, or offers an emotional outlet.

It’s important to note that individual needs and motivations for using mass media can vary significantly. People may have multiple and overlapping needs, and the importance of these needs can differ based on personal preferences, cultural factors, and life circumstances.

Question . 2 What do you know about two-step flow model? Why scholars criticized it?

The two-step flow model is a communication theory that suggests that information and influence flow through opinion leaders to the broader population. The model was proposed by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet in the 1940s. According to the two-step flow model, individuals are influenced by opinion leaders who are more knowledgeable and have a greater influence on their attitudes and behaviors than the mass media.

The two-step flow model suggests the following process:

  1. Opinion Leaders: Opinion leaders are individuals who are considered knowledgeable and influential within a particular field or domain. They actively seek out information from the mass media and other sources and interpret and filter that information. Opinion leaders then share their interpretations, opinions, and recommendations with others.
  2. Opinion Followers: Opinion followers are individuals who are influenced by the opinions and recommendations of the opinion leaders. They trust and rely on the judgment and expertise of the opinion leaders when forming their own attitudes and making decisions.

Scholars have offered various criticisms of the two-step flow model over the years. Some of the main criticisms include:

  1. Oversimplification: Critics argue that the two-step flow model oversimplifies the complex nature of communication and influence processes. The model assumes a linear process of information flow from media to opinion leaders and then to opinion followers, neglecting the role of personal factors, social interactions, and other contextual factors that influence communication dynamics.
  2. Lack of Generalizability: Critics suggest that the two-step flow model may not apply to all communication contexts or cultures. The model was primarily based on research conducted in the United States and may not account for cultural variations in communication patterns and social influence.
  3. Changing Media Landscape: The two-step flow model was developed before the advent of the internet and social media, which have significantly changed communication patterns. Critics argue that in today’s media environment, individuals have more direct access to a vast array of information sources and may bypass traditional opinion leaders. The model may not adequately capture the influence of online communities, social networks, and user-generated content.
  4. Lack of Individual Agency: The two-step flow model assumes a passive role for opinion followers, suggesting that they are passive recipients of opinions from opinion leaders. Critics argue that individuals are active agents who actively engage with and critically evaluate media messages, rather than being mere recipients of influence.
  5. Limited Focus on Media Effects: The two-step flow model primarily focuses on the role of opinion leaders and downplays the direct impact of the mass media on individuals. Critics argue that the model underestimates the direct influence of media messages on attitudes, behaviors, and public opinion.

Despite these criticisms, the two-step flow model contributed to the understanding of interpersonal communication and the role of opinion leaders in shaping attitudes and behaviors. It sparked further research and theories in the field of communication and highlighted the importance of interpersonal networks in the diffusion of information and influence.

Question . 3 What does the theory of “diffusion of innovation” presume? Describe the

characteristics of all elements (innovation, time, channel, social system) involved in diffusion./ what are innovation and what are the characteristics of an innovation./ What do you know about diffusion of innovation theory?.

The theory of Diffusion of Innovation, proposed by Everett Rogers in 1962, examines how new ideas, products, or practices spread and are adopted by individuals and communities over time. The theory presumes the following:

  1. Innovation: An innovation refers to a new idea, product, or practice that is perceived as new or different by the target audience. It can be a technological advancement, a behavior change, or an idea. Innovations can range from tangible products like smartphones to intangible concepts like sustainable practices.
  2. Time: Time is a crucial element in the diffusion process. Diffusion occurs over a period, and the rate of adoption varies across different individuals or groups. The theory recognizes that innovations take time to spread through a population, and different people adopt them at different stages.
  3. Channel: The channel represents the communication medium through which information about the innovation is transmitted. It can be mass media, interpersonal networks, social media, or any other form of communication. The choice of channel affects the speed and reach of the diffusion process.
  4. Social System: The social system encompasses the individuals, groups, organizations, and societal factors that shape the diffusion of innovation. It includes the social networks, norms, culture, and social structures within which the diffusion occurs. The characteristics and dynamics of the social system influence the adoption and acceptance of innovations.

Characteristics of the Elements Involved in Diffusion:

  1. Innovation Characteristics: The characteristics of the innovation itself influence its diffusion. Five key characteristics identified by Rogers are:
  2. Relative Advantage: The degree to which an innovation is perceived as superior to the existing alternatives.
  3. Compatibility: The extent to which the innovation is perceived as consistent with existing values, needs, and experiences of potential adopters.
  4. Complexity: The level of difficulty or complexity associated with understanding and using the innovation.
  5. Trialability: The ability to experiment or test the innovation on a small scale before fully adopting it.
  6. Observability: The degree to which the benefits or results of the innovation are visible or observable to others.
  7. Time Factors: Diffusion occurs over time and is influenced by factors such as the innovation’s rate of adoption, the time it takes for individuals to evaluate and adopt the innovation, and the point at which critical mass is reached, leading to widespread adoption.
  8. Channels of Communication: The choice of communication channels affects the speed and reach of the diffusion process. Different channels have varying levels of influence and effectiveness in disseminating information about the innovation to the target audience.
  9. Social System Characteristics: The social system in which diffusion takes place includes factors such as social norms, communication networks, cultural values, socioeconomic conditions, and institutional support. These factors can either facilitate or hinder the diffusion process by influencing the adoption decisions of individuals or groups.

By considering these elements and their characteristics, the theory of Diffusion of Innovation provides insights into how and why innovations are adopted or rejected by individuals and communities, and how the diffusion process unfolds over time.

Question . 4    What do you know about agenda-setting theory?/ what techniques are used in journalism for setting newspaper agenda./ Do mass media set audience agenda? Your answer should be based on solid theoretical basis as well as empirical evidences.  the Chapel Hill study and Charlotte study.

The Agenda-Setting Theory is a communication theory that suggests that the media has the power to influence the importance and salience of issues in the public’s mind by selecting and emphasizing certain topics. It was first introduced by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in 1972.

The key premise of the theory is that the media, through its selection and presentation of news, can shape the public’s perception of what issues are significant and what topics deserve attention. The theory posits that the media doesn’t tell people what to think, but rather what to think about.

Techniques Used in Journalism for Setting Newspaper Agenda:

  1. Story Selection: Editors and journalists have the power to select which stories and events receive coverage in newspapers. By highlighting certain stories and downplaying others, they influence what issues are brought to the attention of the public. The placement of stories (front page, headline news, etc.) can also contribute to their perceived importance.
  2. Framing: Framing refers to how journalists present and contextualize news stories. The choice of words, images, headlines, and the overall narrative structure can shape the public’s understanding and interpretation of an issue. Different frames can emphasize different aspects of an issue and influence its perceived significance.
  3. Priming: Priming involves the media giving prominence to certain issues or topics, which can influence the public’s evaluations and judgments. By repeatedly covering specific issues, the media can prime the audience to prioritize and consider those issues more when forming opinions and making decisions.
  4. Agenda Melding: Agenda melding refers to the process in which news organizations combine their own agenda with the agenda of external sources, such as public officials, interest groups, or influential individuals. This can happen through press releases, interviews, or giving voice to specific perspectives. It helps shape the news agenda by incorporating external influences into news reporting.
  5. Gatekeeping: Gatekeeping refers to the role of editors and journalists as gatekeepers who decide what information gets published and what is left out. They make choices about what news stories are deemed newsworthy and worthy of public attention. These gatekeepers have the power to shape the newspaper agenda by selecting and prioritizing certain stories over others.
  6. Editorial Bias: Editorial bias can influence the newspaper agenda by reflecting the political or ideological leanings of the publication. The editorial stance, opinion pieces, and editorial endorsements can highlight specific issues or positions, shaping the public’s perception of what matters.

It’s important to note that while the media has the power to set the agenda and influence public attention, individuals also play an active role in interpreting and filtering the information they receive. Agenda-setting theory focuses on the media’s influence on what people think about, but it does not dictate how people think about those issues

Question . 5 What do you know about knowledge-gape theory?

The Knowledge-Gap Theory, also known as the Knowledge-Gap Hypothesis, is a theory in mass communication that examines how information and knowledge gaps emerge and widen among individuals based on their access to and consumption of media content. It suggests that as new information is introduced through the media, those with higher socioeconomic status (SES) tend to acquire and benefit from it more than those with lower SES, thereby widening the knowledge gap between the two groups.

The theory proposes the following key ideas:

  1. Existing Knowledge and Information: The theory assumes that individuals possess different levels of pre-existing knowledge or information about a particular topic. This knowledge gap can arise due to differences in education, socioeconomic status, prior exposure to information, or other factors.
  2. Media Exposure: The theory suggests that media play a significant role in disseminating information and knowledge to the public. However, individuals with higher SES tend to have greater access to and utilization of media sources such as newspapers, television, and the internet compared to those with lower SES.
  3. Knowledge Acquisition: According to the theory, individuals with higher SES are more likely to acquire new knowledge through media exposure. They have greater resources, educational background, and information-seeking behaviors that enable them to interpret and comprehend media messages effectively. In contrast, individuals with lower SES may have limited access to media, fewer information-seeking behaviors, and potentially less comprehension of media content.
  4. Knowledge Gap Widening: The theory suggests that over time, as individuals with higher SES continually acquire new knowledge through media exposure, the knowledge gap between them and individuals with lower SES widens. This is due to the cumulative advantage that those with higher SES possess in terms of access to information and media consumption.

The Knowledge-Gap Theory has significant implications for understanding the role of media in shaping societal knowledge and information inequalities. It suggests that despite the potential of media to disseminate information broadly, unequal access and utilization of media resources can contribute to knowledge disparities among different socioeconomic groups.

It is important to note that the Knowledge-Gap Theory has also faced criticisms. Some argue that the theory oversimplifies the complex factors contributing to knowledge gaps and does not sufficiently account for the diverse ways in which individuals acquire and process information. Nevertheless, the theory offers valuable insights into the relationship between media, knowledge acquisition, and social inequalities, highlighting the importance of addressing information disparities to promote a more informed and equitable society.

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