# Predictions of Public Opinion from the Mass Media. Computer Content Analysis and Mathematical Modeling

By Kennamer, J. David | Journalism Quarterly, Summer 1989 | Go to article overview

# Predictions of Public Opinion from the Mass Media. Computer Content Analysis and Mathematical Modeling

Kennamer, J. David, Journalism Quarterly

THEORY AND METHODOLOGY FAN, DAVID P., Predictions of Public Opinion from the Mass Media. Computer Content Analysis and Mathematical Modeling. New York: Greenwood Press, 1988. 220 pp. \$42.95.

The author has developed an ambitious computer technique for content analysis and mathematical modeling in order to predict the development of public opinion from media content.

A member of the Department of Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Minnesota, he calls his approach ideodynamics, a mathematical model in which message components are assigned "persuasive force functions." He calls such a message component an "infon," defined as a "message component favoring one of the possible positions being considered." He uses an elaborate computer content analysis of Associated Press stones to determine the persuasive potential of media information, and from this, predicts changes in public opinion, operationalized as fluctuations in public opinion polls.

The polls come from the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut. The issues involve defense spending, aid to the Contras, the presence of American troops in Lebanon and the 1984 presidential election.

He summarizes his approach as follows: "The general rule in ideodynamic calculations is that all opinion conversions increase with the sizes of the target subpopulations and the magnitudes of the persuasive force functions, which depend in turn on the infons' contents, validities and audience sizes." Any message can be made up of a number of infons, including the position it favors, whether it is direct or indirect in its support, and thirdly, the nature of the source of the message. The validity of a message refers to the reputation of the medium through which it comes.

Much of the book and appendices is spent in descriptions of the various formulas used to conduct the ideodynamic calculations and make the predictions. Another large portion of the book is spent in discussing the computer content analysis technique. The book's major contributions are these analytical innovations. Both seem to have a number of applications, both in this area and in others.

The book's great weakness is in the author's assumptions about the public opinion formation process.

## The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

• Questia's entire collection
• Automatic bibliography creation
• More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
• Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

### Notes for this article

If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

#### Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

#### Cited article

Predictions of Public Opinion from the Mass Media. Computer Content Analysis and Mathematical Modeling
Settings

Typeface
Text size
Search within

Look up

#### Look up a word

• Dictionary
• Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

#### Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

## Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

## Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

## Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?