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Action-Oriented Mass Communication

  • Alfred Mcalister

Abstract

Ideas about the effects of the mass media in the United States have changed during the history of communication research and three stages have been identified (Roberts and Maccoby, 1985; Flora, Maibach, and Maccoby 1989). Initially, mass media messages were considered almost omnipotent in altering behavior (Katz and Lazarsfeld, 1955). Later, the mass media were considered virtually incapable of producing independent effects (Klapper, 1960). The earlier excessive claims of large effects spurred overzealous public communication campaigns, which failed to meet expectations (Bauer, 1964; Hyman and Sheatsley, 1947;Lazarsfeld and Merton, 1948). As theories about communication and behavior have merged in the analysis of phenomena such as the diffusion of innovation (Rogers, 1983; Bandura, 1986), the most recent trend is toward the belief that mass media messages have little direct effect and that their greatest influence is indirect and largely dependent on interpersonal influences and environmental circumstances. Even small direct effects, such as shifts of a few percentage points in consumer preferences, are of great commercial value and similar changes in health-related behaviors may have enormous absolute significance in a population of millions (Puska et al., 1985b). Contemporary research and accompanying developments in theory have shown that when campaigns combine community-based interpersonal communication with mass media messages the effects can be substantial (McAlister, Ramirez, Galavotti, and Gallion, 1989; Ramirez and McAlister, 1988; Flora, Maccoby and Farquhar, 1989; Bracht, 1990; Rice and Paisley, 1981). An agreed-upon effect of mass communication is “agenda-setting” (McCombs and Shaw, 1972; McCombs, 1981)

Keywords

Media Campaign Interpersonal Communication Media Outlet Mass Communication Behavioral Counseling 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred Mcalister
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of TexasHoustonUSA

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