At a glance, most ordinary individuals would say that the media is extremely influential in our modern society. Well of course they’re right. The media has expanded and emerged in many different forms (films, radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, billboards etc) in order to consume a larger audience. As that audience we’re constantly bombarded by mass media and subsequently the hundreds, thousands, even millions of messages that come with it. How could we not be influenced by the media; something that has become integral in our day to day lives?
David Gauntlett examines and outlines ten things wrong with the media effects model.
In simple terms, I understand the ‘media effect’ model to be the interplay of media and societal behaviour. After investigating the theory it is evident that there is only a certain extent to which the media influences an individual. There are many flaws in the model; I particularly take to the notion that correlation doesn’t imply causation. In other words, there may be correlation between the media and an individual’s behaviour (be it ‘prosocial’ or ‘antisocial’); however there may not be any solid evidence to suggest that media is the causation.
For arguments sake, let’s say I began dancing like PSY does in what I think will be his one hit wonder – ‘Gangnam Style’. This would be an example of how the media HAS influenced my behaviour in a debatably ‘prosocial’ way.
On the other end of the spectrum; if I were to being attacking citizens on the street, stealing cars and participating in other illegal and dangerous activities… Could this be traced back to the media? Would it be fair to blame films, TV programmes and games, such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’?
When assessing behaviour we must start with the individual and their personal circumstances rather than jumping to conclusions about what media interests they have and how they’ve influenced the individual.
There is a line that may be at times, somewhat hazy, that divides the media and the extent to which it influences an individuals behaviour.