The Mass Media in Liberal Democratic Societies

By Stanley Rothman | Go to book overview

SIX
POSSIBLE EXCUSES FOR CLAIMING MASSIVE MEDIA EFFECTS DESPITE THE WEAK EVIDENCE

William J. McGuire

P rofessionals concerned with mass media effects on public opinion and behavior may be annoyed by my basic premise that empirical evidence for massive media effects is very weak. I have already reviewed elsewhere ( McGuire 1986) the weakness of evidence for a dozen of the most commonly claimed types of television effects. Here I shall go beyond this negative conclusion to present several dozen excuses that can help one keep one's faith in massive media impacts despite the weakness of the evidence.


WEAKNESS OF THE EVIDENCE FOR MASSIVE MEDIA IMPACT

Ubiquity of Belief in Massive Media Impacts

It is not surprising that most people believe that the mass media have powerful effects on the public's thoughts, feelings, and actions. For one thing, people in developed countries devote three or four hours a day to television and other media. American children, for example, reach age eighteen having spent more time in

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