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An ecological psychology approach to the study of audiences
Unformatted Document Text:  ecological theory...1 An ecological psychology approach to the study of audiences While psychologists have been quick to study various aspects of the Internet (e.g., Gackenbach, 1998; Wallace, 1999), the psychological influences of television and other traditional media are still largely obscure. This may be attributed to a long- standing division between the communication science research tradition developed in North America during the second half of the 20 th century and the cultural studies tradition established during the 1970s in Europe. The former tradition has drawn heavily on experimental psychology for its theory and research methodology (Bryant & Zillmann, 1994; Lang, 1994), while the latter has tended towards suspicion of “individualist” psychological explanations for audience activity (Barker & Petley, 1997). There has, however, been some recent convergence between these two traditions (Ruddock, 2001). Meanwhile, there have been precious few attempts to apply contemporary theory in social psychology to issues of media and audiences. One is Livingstone & Lunt’s (1994) study of talk shows, and Livingstone’s (1998) work on audiences more generally. Elsewhere, there have been a number of discourse analytic studies that have drawn on media materials for data (e.g., Abell & Stokoe, 2001), and several studies in health psychology that have drawn attention to the importance of media representations of health (Lyons, 2000; Lyons & Willott, 1999). However, there is still a need for a general model that specifies the precise mechanisms by which mass media content might influence the psychological life of

Authors: Giles, David.
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ecological theory...1
An ecological psychology approach to the study of audiences
While psychologists have been quick to study various aspects of the Internet (e.g.,
Gackenbach, 1998; Wallace, 1999), the psychological influences of television and
other traditional media are still largely obscure. This may be attributed to a long-
standing division between the communication science research tradition developed in
North America during the second half of the 20
th
century and the cultural studies
tradition established during the 1970s in Europe. The former tradition has drawn
heavily on experimental psychology for its theory and research methodology (Bryant
& Zillmann, 1994; Lang, 1994), while the latter has tended towards suspicion of
“individualist” psychological explanations for audience activity (Barker & Petley,
1997). There has, however, been some recent convergence between these two
traditions (Ruddock, 2001).
Meanwhile, there have been precious few attempts to apply contemporary theory in
social psychology to issues of media and audiences. One is Livingstone & Lunt’s
(1994) study of talk shows, and Livingstone’s (1998) work on audiences more
generally. Elsewhere, there have been a number of discourse analytic studies that have
drawn on media materials for data (e.g., Abell & Stokoe, 2001), and several studies in
health psychology that have drawn attention to the importance of media
representations of health (Lyons, 2000; Lyons & Willott, 1999).
However, there is still a need for a general model that specifies the precise
mechanisms by which mass media content might influence the psychological life of


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