Direct and Indirect Theories


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  • Created on: 29-05-12 19:55
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Direct Theories
Direct Theories are based on the view that the media does have an immediate and
powerful influence on their audience.
Much of the concern about the media having a direct effect centres on the issue of
imitation of violence and their influence on children, young people and other more
vulnerable members of society.
Hypodermic syringe model
A classic direct theory is the `Hypodermic syringe model' associated with Packard
(1957). This means that the media acts a syringe that injected messages into the
audience subliminally.
For example, how advertising can leads you to believe you need this product.
The effect is seen as immediate and powerful and the audience is regarded as passive
and uncritical.
The theory does not acknowledge the differences between members of the audience
and therefore the audience is seen as homogenous.
Bandura's ­ Bobo Doll Experiment
Bandura (1963) conducted a research that he believed demonstrated that children
imitated violence shown on television.
The study showed that children who were shown the violent footage were a lot more
violent towards toys afterwards than those in control group who did not watch the
The concept of catharsis confirms that the media can have a direct effect but it
challenges the fears that are founded on such theories.
Field experiments by Feshbach and Singer (1971) involving real-life situation found that
the group that viewed non-violent images displayed more aggression than the other
Such findings propose that watching violence in the media can have a direct effect in
providing a safe means of release for aggression, known as catharsis.
Stack (2000) suggests that music may also have a cathartic effect, in the listening to it
may decrease depression and reduce suicidal tendencies.

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Indirect Theories
Indirect theories acknowledge that the media have an effect on audiences but see this
as the product of interaction between different factors.
Such theories look beyond a simple one-way effects process that sees the media
conveying meaning to the audience and looks at the way audiences receive media
messages and the factors shaping this reception.
Two-Step Flow Model
It sees the effect of the media coming through the interaction between people.…read more

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See the media as shaping the norms and values of the audience. The process happens
gradually over long-term exposure to the media.
For example, sociologist are worried that publications like Sugar and Bliss, two
top-selling teenage lifestyle magazines for young women, when read regularly, come to
shape identity and behaviour.
Gauntlett (2008) suggests that such magazines become a habit for their readers by
feeding into teenage concerns. They also pattern behaviour which is then followed into
adulthood with the reading of women's magazine.…read more


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