The hypodermic needle theory implies 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 behavior change.
Several factors contributed to this “strong
effects” theory of communication, including;
O The fast rise an population of radio and
O The emergence of of the persuasion
industries, such as advertising and
O 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 a desired
O This theory suggests a powerful and direct
flow of information from the sender to the
O The hypodermic needle model suggests
that media messages are injected straight
into a passive audience which is
immediately influenced by the message.
O It expresses 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
O 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
O The theory assumes what we see or hear we
believe and consume. The theory assumes
we are brainwashed into believing the media
In the 1930s, a radio broadcast of ‘War of
the Worlds’ was performed like a real news
broadcast to heighten the effect of the story.
People listening believed this to be real and
assumed mars had come to invade the
This demonstrates the hypodermic needle
theory as the people consumed and
believed what was broadcast by the media.
Cons of the theory
O Very out dated and invalid.
O Not all people consume the media in the
O Not everyone watches the
news/consumes the media in the same
O Audience are not simply passive more up
to date theory's have proved this, such as
Stuart Hall’s Reception theory.