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A Multidimensional Approach to the Study of Media Effects
Unformatted Document Text:  18 significantly simplified if we are willing to make a couple of modifications. The matrix does not represent the simplest case because two of the eight dimensions (scope and response) are trichotomies rather than dichotomies. This was done to conform with the existing literature, which traditionally treats the level of analysis in the tripartite terms of (1) individual persons, (2) dyads and small groups and (3) larger corporations and communities, and which traditionally treats the response domain in the tripartite terms of (1) cognitions, (2) affections and (3) behaviors. If for no other reason than simplicity’s sake, we can conceptualize the level of analysis as either “personal” (that is, of an individual person) or “communal” (including dyads, small groups and large corporations). Likewise, we can conceptualize the response domain as “behavioral” (manifested in action) or “non-behavioral” (including affections and cognitions--emotions, attitudes, opinions, intentions to act and thoughts). Indeed, it was not so long ago that the response domain was conceptualized in mostly dichotomous terms, although the two divisions were between attitudes and everything else, rather than between actions and everything else. It was not that scholars did not consider cognitions and behavior important. They simply assumed that cognitions, attitudes and behaviors were consistent, so if you studied attitudes you could predict behavior. Since it was easier to study attitudes, they did. It was only after scholars began to realize that attitudes and behaviors were not always consistent that the division became theoretically important. If we are going to dichotomize the response dimension, it seems to me that it makes more sense to split it along behavioral lines. Is it not behavior, after all, that most interests us? What people think and how they feel may be interesting but are we not

Authors: Lasorsa, Dominic.
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18
significantly simplified if we are willing to make a couple of modifications. The matrix
does not represent the simplest case because two of the eight dimensions (scope and
response) are trichotomies rather than dichotomies. This was done to conform with the
existing literature, which traditionally treats the level of analysis in the tripartite terms of
(1) individual persons, (2) dyads and small groups and (3) larger corporations and
communities, and which traditionally treats the response domain in the tripartite terms of
(1) cognitions, (2) affections and (3) behaviors.
If for no other reason than simplicity’s sake, we can conceptualize the level of
analysis as either “personal” (that is, of an individual person) or “communal” (including
dyads, small groups and large corporations). Likewise, we can conceptualize the
response domain as “behavioral” (manifested in action) or “non-behavioral” (including
affections and cognitions--emotions, attitudes, opinions, intentions to act and thoughts).
Indeed, it was not so long ago that the response domain was conceptualized in mostly
dichotomous terms, although the two divisions were between attitudes and everything
else, rather than between actions and everything else. It was not that scholars did not
consider cognitions and behavior important. They simply assumed that cognitions,
attitudes and behaviors were consistent, so if you studied attitudes you could predict
behavior. Since it was easier to study attitudes, they did. It was only after scholars began
to realize that attitudes and behaviors were not always consistent that the division became
theoretically important.
If we are going to dichotomize the response dimension, it seems to me that it
makes more sense to split it along behavioral lines. Is it not behavior, after all, that most
interests us? What people think and how they feel may be interesting but are we not


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