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A Multidimensional Approach to the Study of Media Effects
Unformatted Document Text:  2 McGuire, 1986; Anderson and Meyer, 1988; McLeod, Kosicki and Pan, 1991, and Perse, 2001. This article represents an effort to build upon the insights of these earlier works. A few general points about media effects dimensions are worth noting. Some represent true continua whereas others are merely descriptive of discrete effects. Unlike the time dimension, which may be considered a continuum running from low to high, other media effects dimensions represent not increments of a thing but instead divisions of a thing into meaningful categories. For example, mass communication scholars have found it useful to consider whether the media effect is cognitive, affective or behavioral. Newspaper reporters consider their primary goal to be to provide information—a cognitive effect—whereas newspaper editorialists consider their primary goal to be to change minds—an attitudinal effect—and newspaper advertisers consider their primary goal to be to change buying habits—a behavioral effect. In this case, the elements of the dimension are discrete categories, not representative of a true continuum. Other important points to note about media effects dimensions are that scholars may differ on the number of discretion points they identify on a dimension, or they may differ on the names of the same points on a dimension, or they may differ on the names of the dimensions themselves. For example, Roberts and Maccoby (1985) chose to add a fourth point to the cognitive-affective-behavioral dimension, suggesting that an “emotional impact” should be considered as separate from the other three types of effect. Most others have preferred to consider emotional effects as affective. To help avoid some of the confusion associated with both substantive and nomenclature differences found in the literature, an effort is made here to note important differences where they seem relevant.

Authors: Lasorsa, Dominic.
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McGuire, 1986; Anderson and Meyer, 1988; McLeod, Kosicki and Pan, 1991, and Perse,
2001. This article represents an effort to build upon the insights of these earlier works.
A few general points about media effects dimensions are worth noting. Some
represent true continua whereas others are merely descriptive of discrete effects. Unlike
the time dimension, which may be considered a continuum running from low to high,
other media effects dimensions represent not increments of a thing but instead divisions
of a thing into meaningful categories. For example, mass communication scholars have
found it useful to consider whether the media effect is cognitive, affective or behavioral.
Newspaper reporters consider their primary goal to be to provide information—a
cognitive effect—whereas newspaper editorialists consider their primary goal to be to
change minds—an attitudinal effect—and newspaper advertisers consider their primary
goal to be to change buying habits—a behavioral effect. In this case, the elements of the
dimension are discrete categories, not representative of a true continuum.
Other important points to note about media effects dimensions are that scholars
may differ on the number of discretion points they identify on a dimension, or they may
differ on the names of the same points on a dimension, or they may differ on the names of
the dimensions themselves. For example, Roberts and Maccoby (1985) chose to add a
fourth point to the cognitive-affective-behavioral dimension, suggesting that an
“emotional impact” should be considered as separate from the other three types of effect.
Most others have preferred to consider emotional effects as affective. To help avoid
some of the confusion associated with both substantive and nomenclature differences
found in the literature, an effort is made here to note important differences where they
seem relevant.


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