Do the Media Tell Us What To Think About?

Dr. Maxwell McCombs (Professor and Jesse H. Jones Chair in Communications at the School of [...]Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin) presented a research talk, "Do the Media Tell Us What to Think About? The Psychology of Agenda Setting," as part of the Dr. Melvin L. DeFleur Distinguished Lecture Series. The contemporary communication landscape confronts us with a vast deluge of information. To cope with this situation, individuals ignore or quickly forget most of these messages. One of the principal attributes identified by agenda-setting theory for those bits of information that do have lasting impact is their relevance. Although relevance was introduced as a key component of need for orientation in 1972 and is widely documented as a key predictor of agenda-setting effects, a major trend in current research is the further explication of what makes an issue or other topic in the news relevant to an individual. Personal values and beliefs, emotional responses to the news, civic duty, and self-interest are all part of the emerging theoretical gestalt that explains agenda-setting effects in greater detail.

Tags: lecture, maxwell mccombs, melvin l. defleur, mass communication, communication theory

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