MASS MEDIA Also known as the Multistep Flow Model is a theory based on a 1940s study on social influence that states that media effects are indirectly established through the personal influence of opinion leaders. The majority of people receive much of their information and are influenced by the media secondhand, through the personal influence of opinion leaders.- Opinion leader- Individuals in socials contactwith an Opinion leader
The Multistep Flow Model says that mostpeople form their opinions based on opinionleaders that influence the media. Opinionleaders are those initially exposed to aspecific media content, and who interpret itbased on their own opinion. They then beginto infiltrate these opinions through thegeneral public who become "opinionfollowers". These "opinion leaders" gain theirinfluence through more elite media asopposed to mainstream mass media. In thisprocess, social influence is created andadjusted by the ideals and opinions of eachspecific "elite media" group, and by thesemedia groups opposing ideals and opinionsand in combination with popular mass mediasources. Therefore, the leading influence inthese opinions is primarily a socialpersuasion.
The two-step flow of communication model hypothesizes that ideas flow from massmedia to opinion leaders, and from them to a wider population. It was firstintroduced by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld et al. in 1944 and elaborated by Elihu Katzand Lazarsfeld in 1955 and subsequent publications.
According to Lazarsfeld and Katz, mass media information is channeled to the"masses" through opinion leadership. The people with most access to media, andhaving a more literate understanding of media content, explain and diffuse thecontent to others.
Based on the two-step flow hypothesis, the term “personal influence” came toillustrate the process intervening between the media’s direct message and theaudience’s reaction to that message. Opinion leaders tend to be similar to thosethey influence—based on personality, interests, demographics, or socio-economic factors. These leaders tend to influence others to change theirattitudes and behaviors. The two-step theory refined the ability to predict howmedia messages influence audience behavior and explains why certain mediacampaigns do not alter audiences’ attitudes. This hypothesis provided a basisfor the multi-step flow theory of mass communication.
The presidential election 1940 questioned asto whether President Franklin Rooseveltwould seek his third term in office. Fundedby grants from the Rockefeller Foundation,Life magazine, and the pollster Elmo Roper,Columbia’s Office of Radio Researchconducted a new kind of study of voting. Itwas based on a panel study of 2,400 votersin Erie County, Ohio.Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and HazelGaudet supervised 15 interviewers, whofrom May–October interviewed thestrategically selected 2,400 members of thecommunity several different times in orderto document their decision making processduring the campaign. They focused on whatfactors would influence their decisions as thecampaign progressed.
The People’s ChoiceThe People’s Choice, a book based on this studypresented the theory of “the two-step flow ofcommunications,” which later came to beassociated with the so-called “limited effectsmodel” of mass media: the idea that ideas oftenflow from radio and print to local “opinion leaders”who in turn pass them on to those with morelimited political knowledge "opinion followers."The conclusion of the research explained thatsometimes person to person communication canbe more effective than traditional media mediumssuch as newspaper, TV, radio etc. This ideadeveloped further in the book Personal Influence.