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A Multidimensional Approach to the Study of Media Effects
Unformatted Document Text:  8 content-specific effects and (2) content-irrelevant effects. On the level of analysis dimension, which he labeled the “unit of observation,” he located three divisions: (1) individual persons, (2) interpersonal interaction between two or a few audience members, and (3) corporate activity of a larger social system. Because there are three dimensions, one with two divisions and two with three divisions, these dimensions and their divisions can be combined to create a 2-by-2-by-3 matrix. In one cell we find cognitive effects in individual persons due to specific content. In another cell we find content-irrelevant behavioral effects observed in a community. By doing this, Chaffee was able to identify 18 types of studies of mass communication effects that are theoretically possible. The matrix he described might look like this: Armed with his three-dimensional matrix, Chaffee was able to show clearly that the vast majority of mass communication research that has actually been conducted falls into just a few cells, while most cells contain few studies or none at all. In fact, Chaffee said, “A definite plurality, and quite probably a solid majority, of all studies to date would

Authors: Lasorsa, Dominic.
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content-specific effects and (2) content-irrelevant effects. On the level of analysis
dimension, which he labeled the “unit of observation,” he located three divisions: (1)
individual persons, (2) interpersonal interaction between two or a few audience members,
and (3) corporate activity of a larger social system.
Because there are three dimensions, one with two divisions and two with three
divisions, these dimensions and their divisions can be combined to create a 2-by-2-by-3
matrix. In one cell we find cognitive effects in individual persons due to specific content.
In another cell we find content-irrelevant behavioral effects observed in a community. By
doing this, Chaffee was able to identify 18 types of studies of mass communication
effects that are theoretically possible. The matrix he described might look like this:
Armed with his three-dimensional matrix, Chaffee was able to show clearly that
the vast majority of mass communication research that has actually been conducted falls
into just a few cells, while most cells contain few studies or none at all. In fact, Chaffee
said, “A definite plurality, and quite probably a solid majority, of all studies to date would


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