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limited effects theory


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Lazarsfeld's conclusion from survey research in the 1940s that, contrary to popular assumptions, the mass media cannot directly change most people's strongly-held attitudes or opinions. This is usually explained in relation to selective perception: viewers tend to select and interpret media messages in accordance with their existing attitudes and beliefs, and their use of the mass media tends to reinforce these. The limited effects view was later confirmed by Hovland, who demonstrated the importance of many intervening variables. See also attitudinal effects; hypodermic model; receiver selectivity; selective exposure; selective influence; two-step flow.

Subjects: Media studies


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