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A Multidimensional Approach to the Study of Media Effects
Unformatted Document Text:  21 in the eight-dimensional matrix. Any effect can be plotted in this multidimensional space. Working the matrix When we explore a particular media effect we can ask of it a series of questions based on each of the eight dimensions. As we move from the first through the eighth question, we cumulate information until the answer to the last question captures all that we think is important and interesting to ask of the media effect. For example: Does this affect a person or a group of persons? If a person, does it affect the person’s actions or his or her cognitions or affections? If it affects a person’s cognitions, is content responsible for the effect or is a medium or media in general causing the effect, regardless of content? If specific content is affecting the person’s cognitions, is it causing the person to change cognitions (the content is informative) or is it reinforcing existing cognitions (the content is repetitive)? If this content is changing the person’s cognitions, is the effect intentional or unintentional? If this cognitive change in the person is unintentional, is it brief or enduring? If this unintentional cognitive change is enduring, does it occur immediately or does it take some time to build up? If this content producing unintentional and lasting change in the person’s cognitions requires time to occur, are there conditions that enhance or retard the effect? Systematically, we develop a conceptualization of the effect that is fuller, more comprehensive, richer than it might otherwise be. The study of mass communication may advance more quickly and efficiently if scholars pay closer attention to the nature of the effects that interest them. Building and using multi-dimensional matrices can guide them. Building theory with effects dimensions

Authors: Lasorsa, Dominic.
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21
in the eight-dimensional matrix. Any effect can be plotted in this multidimensional
space.
Working the matrix
When we explore a particular media effect we can ask of it a series of questions
based on each of the eight dimensions. As we move from the first through the eighth
question, we cumulate information until the answer to the last question captures all that
we think is important and interesting to ask of the media effect. For example:
Does this affect a person or a group of persons? If a person, does it affect the
person’s actions or his or her cognitions or affections? If it affects a person’s cognitions,
is content responsible for the effect or is a medium or media in general causing the effect,
regardless of content? If specific content is affecting the person’s cognitions, is it causing
the person to change cognitions (the content is informative) or is it reinforcing existing
cognitions (the content is repetitive)? If this content is changing the person’s cognitions,
is the effect intentional or unintentional? If this cognitive change in the person is
unintentional, is it brief or enduring? If this unintentional cognitive change is enduring,
does it occur immediately or does it take some time to build up? If this content producing
unintentional and lasting change in the person’s cognitions requires time to occur, are
there conditions that enhance or retard the effect?
Systematically, we develop a conceptualization of the effect that is fuller, more
comprehensive, richer than it might otherwise be. The study of mass communication may
advance more quickly and efficiently if scholars pay closer attention to the nature of the
effects that interest them. Building and using multi-dimensional matrices can guide them.
Building theory with effects dimensions


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