CAUS[E]ality AND the EFFECTs model

Television (Photo credit: *USB*)

Why is it that we are being bombarded with the idea that the media is rotting our brains…?

…That it is making us fat…?

…Or violent…?

A significant part of this can be related back to the Media Effects Model. What is the Media Effects Model? The Media Effects Model outlines how being subject to media can alter a person’s behaviour. However, as David Gauntlett explains, in “Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’“, there are at least 10 significant issues in regards to its integrity.

To compress this lengthy list into something more digestible, we can say that the Effects Model usually simply doesn’t prove its findings in a way that is accurate. To draw from the list of ten, some of the problems include that it generally treats mass media viewers as weak and highly persuadable, studies are often conducted in artificial, unrealistic environments, and children are often, as, Gauntlett said: “negatively defined as non-adults“. An example of an effects model study can be found in this extract of a Supernanny UK episode.

So what are the questions we should be asking?

The key here is not to start with the MEDIA, but to start with the INDIVIDUAL. If we want to understand what the effects of the media really are, we need to ask ourselves different questions: i.e. “Why is this person violent?” rather than: “Does the media make people violent?” There are infinite reasons for a person to be violent, not just violent video games. For example, upbringing, mental health. Causality, the relationship between primary and secondary effects, seems to be mostly muddied by prejudice and ineffectual methodology, rather than being based on provable, logical fact.

The effects model, for the most part, appears based on superstition. Asking the right questions is the beginning to finding out how or if media really does affect media consumers.



6 thoughts on “CAUS[E]ality AND the EFFECTs model”

  1. Thank you for coming up the front of the lecture on Wednesday and talking about your blog. I am new to blogging and I found your explanation about your blog page helpful. Your blog post on the ‘media effects ‘ model is clear , concise and easy to read. Same with your blog layout and background.

    Look forward to reading your other posts,

    1. Thanks very much! I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to actually read it! It’s really good to hear. I’m also completely new to blogging so hopefully we’ll get the hang of it. I’m glad we can all learn together, takes the pressure off

  2. Hi Ainsley, you’ve utilised the Supernanny clip wonderfully to support your argument- well done! I found the most fascinating aspect of the video to be the assumption of the direct correlation between heart rate and desensitisation which is explored from 2.30- 3.00. It’s amazing that one can attribute a basic biological change to a specific emotion or lack of. How does a regular heart rate while watching a violent clip prove that an individual has become desensitised? Could a lack of concentration or boredom amongst a multitude of other options be an alternate explanation? This leap in logic and failure to explore other possibilities is certainly an inherent flaw within the media effects model as you pointed out!

    1. Thankyou! I know I couldn’t believe the way they had manipulated the situation to get their desired outcome! Even when I first watched this a few months ago I thought it was flawed and over dramatic. Definitely not an example of good scientific practice

  3. Great post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m impressed! Very helpful information particularly the closing phase 🙂 I take care of such information much. I used to be seeking this particular info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

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