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Visual Representation and the Prediction of Emotion
Unformatted Document Text:  1 Visual Representation and the Prediction of Emotion For decades, public opinion scholars have invoked Walter Lippman’s (1922) concept of the “pictures in our heads” (1). They refer to Lippman’s assertion that, since no one can experience first-hand all events occurring in the world, the only reality we know is the images we form in our own minds of what might be happening “out there.” Lippman argued that those images are guided by what the media tell us. Since the Civil War, and most profoundly in this age of visually-oriented, instant news coverage, the media not only help us create our images of the world, but literally provide us with the pictures that represent various events and issues. Lippman himself predicted the power of the then nascent moving image to accomplish for the viewer the “whole process of observing, describing, reporting, and then imagining” (92). The belief that visual news communication has the power to affect public opinion frequently drives public policy. During the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) war with Yugoslavia in 1999, one of the targets NATO forces attacked was a Serbian television station. NATO argued that this was a military target because the station was broadcasting images of destruction aimed at igniting and sustaining hatred toward the NATO forces. Similarly, Yugoslavian officials prohibited foreign news organizations from photographing scenes or broadcasting images from areas of conflict. Officials on each side of the conflict clearly believed that images created by the opposition could turn public sentiment against them. The South African government demonstrated its fear of visual communication by outlawing television broadcasts until 1976

Authors: Sherr, Susan.
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Visual Representation and the Prediction of Emotion
For decades, public opinion scholars have invoked Walter Lippman’s
(1922) concept of the “pictures in our heads” (1). They refer to Lippman’s
assertion that, since no one can experience first-hand all events occurring in the
world, the only reality we know is the images we form in our own minds of what
might be happening “out there.” Lippman argued that those images are guided by
what the media tell us. Since the Civil War, and most profoundly in this age of
visually-oriented, instant news coverage, the media not only help us create our
images of the world, but literally provide us with the pictures that represent
various events and issues. Lippman himself predicted the power of the then
nascent moving image to accomplish for the viewer the “whole process of
observing, describing, reporting, and then imagining” (92).
The belief that visual news communication has the power to affect public
opinion frequently drives public policy. During the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization’s (NATO) war with Yugoslavia in 1999, one of the targets NATO
forces attacked was a Serbian television station. NATO argued that this was a
military target because the station was broadcasting images of destruction aimed
at igniting and sustaining hatred toward the NATO forces. Similarly,
Yugoslavian officials prohibited foreign news organizations from photographing
scenes or broadcasting images from areas of conflict. Officials on each side of
the conflict clearly believed that images created by the opposition could turn
public sentiment against them. The South African government demonstrated its
fear of visual communication by outlawing television broadcasts until 1976


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