Compare and Contrast Psychological

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Compare and Contrast Psychological and Sociological Approaches to Media Effects

Compare and contrast psychological and sociological approaches to media effects and explain why both are now regarded as problematic


The current paper aims at providing an overview of the linear models that are traditional versus the approaches that are made dialogical and discursive for studying the processes of mass media communications. The methods through which the media communication processes are considered to have changed as there is an evolution of the paradigms theoretically concerning the psychology and the sociological approaches. These models have been developed first in the area of studying the media are having some limitations which drive on one hand, from the firm alternating between the receivers and the sources while on the other hand, from the integration lacking in the social variables concerning the concept of the process of communication with the media. In this paper how the focus that is increased towards the aspects that are interactive of the communication is leading to the replacement of the linear models that are traditional with that of the highly complex models and are implied in redefining the concept of the communication is discussed. For instance, the discursive approach and the dialogical models: from this viewpoint, it is considered that the media is having a fundamental role in constructing or reconstructing reality processes and in the development of qualitative methodologies is needed especially.

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The term communication research can be used for concluding the tradition of research which refers to the extremely varied and heterogeneous groups of approaches that are methodological and conceptual models. The study aims to provide discussions on some of the implications that are methodological and theoretical. The way the process of media communication is considered and the role of the media in society is noticed to have changed as there is an evolution in the psychological and sociological approaches.

It has been pointed out (Baskerville & Wood-Harper, 2016) that the analysis of the range and the diversity of the research methodologies that are used in various numbers of research in the media context suggests that: in the study of the media there are different perspectives which are known to emerge historically as a response to not only as per the findings of the experimental inquiries it also changed the ideas regarding the way how an individual will respond to the media. This is more often considered to be the result of the shift in the paradigm within the research of the sociological approach in general (Cote & Levine, 2014).

Theoretical Background Of The Various Approaches

For gaining an understanding of a wide range of the various orientations of the research some concern concerning the theoretical background of the various approaches regarding media analysis is required. According to the study, the shift to the discursive and dialogical models from the linear approaches is considered to be of utmost significance at both the levels of methodological and theoretical (Payne, 2015).

The theory of the language and the language that is used are connected strictly with the traditional linear models as it suggests that the language is a problem-free and contextual vehicle for communication of the information. It is employed widely in communication research as it is largely implied, with the implementation of quantitative methods. In the early 1980s, there was a meeting on the pragmatic linguistics from which the dialogical models and the discursive approach drive that the psychological sciences and the philosophy of the language will lead to the implementation of the more complex methods of the process of media communication by replacing the traditional linear models.

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Here the term dialogical will refer to some of the particular trends of theoretical and analytic methods which have appeared in France during the year 1980s in which the reactions that are complex with the analysis of the discourse are still in the stage of getting investigated in-depth (Ervin, 2015). The most important point here is that in terms of both perspectives, language is considered to be the social practice and the media are found to have an important role in the construction or the reconstruction of reality processes. Qualitative methodologies are the one that is especially needed for development.

The perspective that is underlined in most of the diversified research orientations that are used in the context of numerous different media research has been characterized by the adoption which is often understood as the simplified model for the process of communication that is derived from the information theory (Punch, 2013). This model is one of the widely known models. According to the view of this model, the communication of the message is a very simple, direct, and one-directional process.

There is a source available that organizes the information in the signal form and communicated it to the other end using the channel where it is decoded. Then it is described as a model where the communication is said to be the process of transmission to the receiver from the transmitter through codification and the de-codification of the facts in which the subjects are measured as the indirect recipients of the messages. (Jacobson 1963), it was translated by him into the linguistic model in which the process of communication is considered in such a way that includes the elements such as the message, transmitter, context, code, receiver, and channel. Here the subjects according to (Smith, 2015), are regarded as the ideal, possessors, and transparent of a code of common communication. These are then considered as the necessary conditions for carrying out the communication which is regarded as the transmission of the information.

The first theories of mass communication by following this model have inclined to view the public as a homogenous and significantly passive entity on which there was a possibility of exerting a direct influence. It was noted (Smith, 2015) that the image of the process of mass communication that is entertained by the researchers firstly was found to be one of the atomistic mass about the millions of listeners, readers, and moviegoers who were prepared to receive the message and secondly, each message is the direct and the influential provocation for action which would produce the response immediately.

From this model, the idea of the subject has been recalled in certain ways which have seen it as the simple responder to the provocation that is emphasized in the field of psychology by the main behaviorism where the model proposed by (Tedeschi, 2013) has emerged. Even to date, without any doubt, a point of reference in the area of the studies of mass communication is established by tithe so-called five W’s model proposed by Lass Well in which what is the content, to whom it is concerned, who says it, by which channel and with what kind of effect are included. A scheme was constituted by it widely in which the sharing in the descriptions and the analysis of the process of mass media communication is involved.

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In psychology, a progressive approach was focusing attention on the experimental pragmatic approach over the characteristics of every element that is included in the model of the 5 W’s. It was then followed by the isolation of the individual variables experimentally for analyzing the way by which they can interfere with the process of persuasion. The studies conducted by Hovland along with his group of researchers at Yale University (Hovland 1954; Hovland Lumsdaine & Sheffield 1949; Hovland, Janis & Kelley 1953) represented the paradigm that is dominant for a longer period.

The complexity of the variables has been considered by them which have come into action in the relationship between the message, the recipient, and the transmitter in the field of the persuasion study (Scherer & Ekman, 2014). For instance, the appearances of the variables, messages, recipients that are interfering with the transmission and the receiving of the message, and much more; the research that was carried out the Yale school has contributed to the reworking of the Lass well’s model which has been credited to the media. The attributes were more or less in the infinite ability for influencing the opinion of the public and by highlighting how the efficiency of the messages varies with the fluctuations of some of the features of the recipient and how the things of the mass communication will depend fundamentally on the interaction with the factors.

The results that have been obtained have contributed to supporting the idea that the effects that are direct and immediate to the resources of mass communication in the context of the attitudes that are changing were very weak.

Lasswell (1927; 1935) has got some ideas concerning the effects that are direct on the resources of mass information over the behavior and the attitude of the public have been abandoned gradually due to the interest that is increasing in the variables which are interfering with the correlation between the response to the behavior and the message (Tedeschi, 2013). For instance, selective perception is considered to be the role of the rational structures of the subject that is receiving and the characteristics that are social demographical of the audience.

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Communication process and the transmission of information:

The process of communication is an inherent trait of media since media channels are intended to ensure the interaction of a global audience. References to the use of varying theoretical approaches to determine the psychological and sociological impacts rendered by media could be assumed as primary highlights of the report. The critical reflection on psychological and sociological dimensions related to the implementation of media and its short or long-term impacts on the general audience could provide credible insights for the resolution of issues such as mass violence or gender stereotyping (Shoemaker & Reese, 2013).  The domain of research and studies about mass communication has encompassed several implications related to theory. The understanding of the impacts of media content could be derived from a lucid interpretation of the psychological and sociological aspects of the outcomes of media could be assistive in the identification of underlying flaws related to media effects. Theoretical paradigms suggest the association of particular aspects of psychology with the outcomes of media content concerning the characterization of the receiver or audience as the respondent and the message is assumed as the stimuli. Furthermore, it can be imperatively observed that psychological approaches for determining the outcomes of media on audience behavior are reliable on the grounds of comprehensive illustration of the Ws model stated by Lasswell (Shoemaker & Reese, 2013). The different implications of the Ws model refer to the distinct elements such as that is the communicator, what is being communicated, which audience is targeted, which channel, and what the outcome would be (Perloff, 2014). The experimental approaches for media research are accountable for the comprehensive illustration of the individual components of the Ws model which can provide a reliable understanding of the effect rendered by each variable distinctly. Thereafter, the impact of interpersonal relationships in shaping the psychological implications of media content should be reviewed critically to obtain credible insights into the efficiency of media communication’s impact (Perloff, 2014). The comprehensive understanding of mass communication processes and research studies about the impact of media on the sociological and psychological dimensions also provides legible insights for fabricating novel hypotheses that could cater to the research issues observed prominently in the contemporary domain.

Mass communication is also linked with sociological impacts with the imperative requirement of defining a sociological empirical approach for the research issue about the effects of mass media. The critical perspective that could be brought forward in this case as well as the communication imperatives of media generally facilitates an impression of the difference between theory and the concentration of practices that are implemented by media for providing information or entertainment (Perloff, 2014). The cognizable outcome that can be noticed concerning the differing impacts rendered by reflection on audience roles as integral entities of social context could be a plausible rationale for emphasizing the social behavior of users on social media platforms. Changes induced by sociology are impactful on the audience and could impinge permanent impacts on the sociological behavior of the audience. From a wider perspective, the link between mass communication and sociological changes could also be reviewed on the grounds of the need for social insertion and acquisition of social identity (West & Turner, 2013). The noticeable observation in the context of the sociological impact of media can be cited in the consideration of selectiveness which is a mandatory outcome of media effects from a sociological dimension. The association of similar audiences on social networks in the environment could lead to potential improvements in the sector of sociological trends associated with the respondents or the audience. The observation of changing implications of media content as well as the preferences of individuals to associate themselves with prominent groups in society can be assumed as a reasonable motivator for dictating the sociological impacts rendered by media. Another noticeable factor that has been associated with the sociological dimension of media effects is the contribution of media to the formation of a symbolic identity for the processes such as production, knowledge distribution, and the reproduction process. The effects of the integration related to individual processes in mass media communication could be considered accountable for realizing unconventional yet functional outcomes to acquire feasible moderation of psychological traits, and behavioral variations in unison with existing concepts of media effects research. The commitment of recently published literary sources accounts for the comprehensive assortment of problems such as a person’s group, social identity, social interpretation, and social representations (Perloff, 2014).

One of the formidable highlights of the impact rendered by media communication is observed in the effectiveness of systems that are implemented for developing the efficiency of media communication (Perloff, 2014). The foremost requirement in the present scenario is to cater to the psychological and sociological impacts of media and study the informal and formal channels of communication, the relationship among subjects, and the immediate social environment.

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Media and its impact

Since media now plays a vital role in the lives of all individuals it influences a lot of our behaviors and characteristics. It is vital to understand the impact it has on its audience so that it can be limited. Since the mass media now occupies a high proportion of our leisure time it has several effects on both the psychological and sociological aspects of the audience. Since the various scenarios that are reflected by media, seem very fascinating to the audience group, they try to imitate the same in their real life (West & Turner, 2013). The audience is a gullible crowd so their social and psychological behavior is altered as per the various depictions made by the mass media.

The audience is an integral part of the media operations since its activities have a direct correlation to the audience’s life and mental state. The increase in the violent aspects that are showcased by media on various platforms increases the inclination of the audience toward violent behavior (West & Turner, 2013). The increase in the portrait of crime has increased the crime level in society since the audience feels it adds a cool aspect to their life and they can get away from the consequences. Especially the youth and the kid section of the masses get highly influenced by what they see on different media platforms.

There have been a few real-life incidents that have been inspired by movies or other forms of media. These instances show that today the audience is partly controlled by the media and its content. There is a need for effective regulation of media operations so that the media showcase positive things and it can encourage doing something good in society (Perloff, 2014). The audience gets so very engrossed in the programs that they start to lose their identity and begin identifying themselves with the characters that they watch on television or in movies. Since the effect of media is vital, it should be noted that the content that is flowing to the final audience doesn’t hurt the social and psychological aspects of a person. Kids are prone to get highly influenced by what they see on television and the internet. This section of the audience needs proper guidance so that they can understand that a major segment of content that is portrayed by media is based on fiction and glamour.

The increase in the content relating to violence by the media has increased the cases of violence among children and kids in schools and homes. All these are the results of media and the high degree of violent content leads to the increase in the level of violence prevailing in the society. Many sections of the media glamorize and show the use of alcohol and drugs among the youth section of society (West & Turner, 2013). This has an increase in the rate of substance abuse among the teenage section of society.

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Media is a strong weapon since its content has a strong relation with the attitude and behavior of the audience. It influences their social and psychological behavior and people according to what they view on different media forms. Since a large section of time of individuals is spent on different forms of media, it has a significant bearing on the lifestyle and thinking process of the audience. The different forms of media need to act responsibly by keeping different sections of the audience in mind including children, kids, adults, middle-aged people, etc.  The strict regulation of media content can be useful in reducing its impact on the social and psychological aspects of an individual. Positive content needs to be increased in media so that the right and positive message is shared with the audience. This kind of favorable content will have a positive impact on the lives of the audience and it will have a good influence on their social and other aspects of life. Thus media effect can never be negated in society since it has a connection with the society, its mindset, and all the activities that take place within the society or the community.


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Cote, J.E. and Levine, C.G., 2014. Identity, formation, agency, and culture: A social psychological synthesis. Psychology Press.

Payne, M., 2015. Modern social work theory. Oxford University Press.

Pervin, L.A. ed., 2015. Goal concepts in personality and social psychology. Psychology Press.

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Perloff, R.M., 2014. Social media effects on young women’s body image concerns: Theoretical perspectives and an agenda for research. Sex Roles, 71(11-12), pp.363-377

Smith, J.A. ed., 2015. Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods. Sage.

Scherer, K.R. and Ekman, P., 2014. Approaches to emotion. Psychology Press.

Shoemaker, P.J. and Reese, S.D., 2013. Mediating the message in the 21st century: A media sociology perspective. Routledge.

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West, R. and Turner, L.H., 2013. Introducing Communication Theory: Analysis and Application (2013 Ed.).

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