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Hypodermic Needle Theory

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Hypodermic Needle Theory - history, notes, example and strengths and weaknesses

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Hypodermic Needle Theory

  1. 1. Hypodermic Needle Theory
  2. 2. History The "hypodermic needle theory" implied mass media had a direct, immediate and powerful effect on its audiences. The mass media in the 1940s and 1950s were perceived as a powerful influence on behaviour change. Several factors contributed to this "strong effects" theory of communication, including: * the fast rise and popularisation of radio and television *the emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda * the Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children * Hitler's monopolization of the mass media during WWII to unify the German public behind the Nazi party
  3. 3. The theory suggests that the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by ‘shooting’ or ‘injecting’ them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response. They express the view that the media is a dangerous means of communicating an idea because the receiver or audience is powerless to resist the impact of the message. People are seen as passive and are seen as having a lot media material "shot" at them. People end up thinking what they are told because there is no other source of information.
  4. 4. Example of the hypodermic needle theory being successful In 1938, the now-infamous radio dramatisation of the science fiction novel 'war of the worlds' by HG Wells was performed like a contemporary new broadcast, a technique that had been used to heighten realism and dramatic effect. However as audiences listen to this stimulation of a news broadcast as it occurred every 40 minutes some people concluded that it was in fact a real account of an invasion from Mars, headed to the roads, hid in homes and loaded their weapons in an attempt to defend themselves against the supposed imminent attack.
  5. 5. Strengths and weaknesses of the theory Strength • The use of numbers and statistics can be effective and reliable way of seeing trends. • Effect studies often involve a large numbers of participants and sometimes extend over long periods of time. Weakness • Has little place in contemporary analysis of audience reception, although it is possible that audiences revert to such thinking from time to time, these types of instances are rare, and don’t carry a great deal of momentum, if anything audiences today tend to be a lot more sophisticated and aware of how media messages are constructed. • Too simplistic, changes to attitudes and beliefs are not always observable or easily measured inn the way physics; changes are. Audiences interpret media differently

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