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Analyzing Exposure and Attention Variables in Media Effects Research
Unformatted Document Text:  Exposure and Attention 3 Many models of the influence of media on behavior include not only exposure, but also attention to media as important predictors of media effects. For example, after evaluating hundreds of studies on attitude formation and change, McGuire (1985) concluded that the first two steps in the process were exposure and attention. Although there is a general consensus among communication researchers of the importance of both exposure and attention, there continues to be discussion about how to operationalize exposure (e.g., Drew & Weaver, 1990; Hornik, 2000; McLeod & McDonald, 1985; Shapiro, 1994; Southwell, Hornik, & Barmada, 2001). In survey research, exposure is commonly assessed through self-report of use of various media, sometimes combined with measurement of the actual content of those media with respect to the media content of interest. Another approach is to assess exposure by exposing respondents to examples of sample messages, in tests of recognition memory, or to ask for free recall of messages (e.g., Hornik, 2000; Shapiro, 1994; Slater & Kelly, 2002). Use of multiple approaches in the same study is rare, as are direct comparisons of such approaches. In addition to questions about operationalizing exposure, one particularly important methodological concern that has not been addressed is the relation between exposure and attention, and how the two variables should be used jointly. Specifically, in some prior research an additive model have been used whereas in others a multiplicative model has been employed. The present study examines both alternative analytic approaches to use of exposure and attention measures in a media effects study, and compares results of such approaches to recognition- and recall-based measurement, in the context of a study of adolescents and magazine advertising for cigarettes.

Authors: Aloise-Young, Patricia. and Slater, Michael.
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Exposure and Attention
3
Many models of the influence of media on behavior include not only exposure, but also
attention to media as important predictors of media effects. For example, after evaluating
hundreds of studies on attitude formation and change, McGuire (1985) concluded that the first
two steps in the process were exposure and attention. Although there is a general consensus
among communication researchers of the importance of both exposure and attention, there
continues to be discussion about how to operationalize exposure (e.g., Drew & Weaver, 1990;
Hornik, 2000; McLeod & McDonald, 1985; Shapiro, 1994; Southwell, Hornik, & Barmada,
2001). In survey research, exposure is commonly assessed through self-report of use of various
media, sometimes combined with measurement of the actual content of those media with respect
to the media content of interest. Another approach is to assess exposure by exposing respondents
to examples of sample messages, in tests of recognition memory, or to ask for free recall of
messages (e.g., Hornik, 2000; Shapiro, 1994; Slater & Kelly, 2002). Use of multiple approaches
in the same study is rare, as are direct comparisons of such approaches.
In addition to questions about operationalizing exposure, one particularly important
methodological concern that has not been addressed is the relation between exposure and
attention, and how the two variables should be used jointly. Specifically, in some prior research
an additive model have been used whereas in others a multiplicative model has been employed.
The present study examines both alternative analytic approaches to use of exposure and attention
measures in a media effects study, and compares results of such approaches to recognition- and
recall-based measurement, in the context of a study of adolescents and magazine advertising for
cigarettes.


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