Communicating through the media

  • Dennis Howitt
Part of the Psychology for Professional Groups book series (PPG)


It is easy to blame the mass media for much of what we consider undesirable in society. If we believe that education standards are declining we blame television for distracting our children from their schoolwork. The mass media are blamed for making people lazy, greedy, violent and sexy. However, claims about the effects of the mass media tend to overemphasize their true impact. This does not mean that the media have no role to play in persuading people, in disseminating information, and bringing about social change. But it does mean that we have carefully to separate myth from reality, fact from fiction. This chapter illustrates the usefulness of the mass media for professional people. We also outline some of the things that need to be taken into account when trying to understand the effects of the mass media.


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  3. Glasgow Media Group (1976) Bad News. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
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Annotated reading

  1. Brown, R. (ed.) (1976) Children and Television. London: Collier Macmillan. A book of readings which presents an overview of theory and research into mass communications. Most contributions are British or European.Google Scholar
  2. Howitt, D. and Cumberbatch, G. (1975) Mass Media Violence and Society. London: Elek Science. This is the most detailed book devoted to the television violence issue. The authors present a thoroughgoing account of the mass media in society and the difficulties of research in this area.Google Scholar
  3. Liebert, R.M., Neale, J.M., and Davidson, E.S. (1973) The Early Window. New York: Pergamon. An account of American research on the effects of television on young people. Contains content analysis data, material on advertising, educational television and control of the mass media as well as violence research.Google Scholar
  4. Noble, G. (1975) Children in front of the Small Screen. London: Constable. A very psychological approach to television research. Stresses psychological processes and mechanisms much more than most texts. Goes into the production side of the television.Google Scholar
  5. Whale, J. (1977) The Politics of the Media. Glasgow: Fontana. This is not about psychology at all in a formal sense. It is an account of some of the economic and political pressures controlling the mass media. The material is relevant to several parts of the chapter.Google Scholar
  6. Finally, students might like to read more about the psychology of attitude change. Most introductory text books in psychology contain relevant material but the following is short and easily obtainable: Reich, B. and Adcock, C. (1976) Values, Attitudes and Behaviour Change. London: Methuen.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The British Psychological Society 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis Howitt

There are no affiliations available

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