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


"Those of us on the lookout for insights into social behavior must be impressed when a book strikes us as being powerful enough to shake firmly held beliefs in a single reading. Even as we explore the vagueness of social science, we unveil bias that prejudices how we think, what we teach. One bias in the social sciences derives from the influence of cognitive dissonance' invoking thoughts of message reinforcement, not opinion change, and suggesting minimal effects of the press. Author David Fan goes far in dissuading those of us who have fallen under the minimalist spell. His clear examination of the power of the American press on public opinion provides compelling evidence for the profound impact the press has on our thinking. Fan, a cellular biologist, parades an impressive array of data to support his contention that opinion can be measured by the application of his mathematical model to the content of national news reports. His findings confirm a clear connection between the content of national news and,the results of national opinion polls." Public Relations Review