Communication Theory and Methodology 1998 Abstracts

Communication Theory and Methodology Division

Examining Rhetorical Structures in Competing News Frames: How Interest Groups Shaped Coverage of the Late-term Abortion Debate • Julie L. Andsager, Washington State University • In competing to shape policy on social issues, interest groups develop rhetoric to garner more media coverage and a larger slice of public opinion. This study examined how pro-choice and pro-life groups attempted to build rhetorical structures in frames of the late-term abortion debate in 1995-96. Pro-life rhetoric appeared more frequently in six major newspapers’ coverage and was more closely associated with the issue than was pro-choice rhetoric, suggesting the value of its emotional appeal.

Synthesis 2000: A Unified Model of Mass Communication • Michael Antecol and Keith P. Sanders, Missouri-Columbia • Because previous models of the communication process did adequately represent the actual communication experience, there has been a shift in research attention away from holistic models, to ones that more accurately reflected various individual elements within a mass mediated experience. The results of these attempts have disembodied the mass communication process such that there is no longer a unified manner in which to regard the mediated communication experience. Although there have been calls for studies that cross levels of analysis, there has been no recent attempt to synthesize a coherent model of mass communications that would be suitable for the next century.

Predicting Future Risky Behavior Among Those “Too Young” to Drink as the Result of Advertising Desirability • Erica Weintraub Austin, Washington State University • A convenience sample of 273 children in Washington state investigated the validity of a predrinking behavior index as a behavioral outcome to assess media effects on precursors to drinking among children for whom alcohol consumption is not yet occurring. It also examined age trends in relevant beliefs and behaviors. Perceptions of advertising desirability increased steadily from third to ninth grade, whereas identification with portrayals leveled off after sixth grade. Expectancies also increased with age, particularly between sixth and ninth grade.

A Path Model Examining the Influence of the Media On Fear of Crime and Protective Act • Mahmoud A.M. Braima, Southern University, Thomas Johnson and Jayanthi Sothirajah, Southern Illinois-Carbondale • In an effort to understand how the media influence people’s fear of crime, this paper proposed and empirically tested a model of the relationship between (1) demographic variables and crime issue involvement; (2) simple exposure to the media, exposure to crime news and crime information seeking; (3) attention to crime content; and (4) fear of crime and taking protective acts against crime. Data from a survey of 311 adult residents of Little Rock, Arkansas Provided preliminary partial support for the developed hypothesis.

The Crisis of Communication for Citizenship: Normative Critiques of News and Democratic Processes • Eric P. Bucy, Indiana University and Paul D’Angelo, Villanova University • Over the last 25 years political communication researchers have presented mounting evidence of how the press fails its public mission by not adequately informing the electorate, presenting an accurate picture of civic affairs, or fostering a sense of connectedness to governing institutions. Perceived shortcomings of the political communication system and sustained controversy in the field over the nature and extent of media deficiencies have led scholars to articulate a crisis of communication for citizenship and a crisis of political communication research.

The Role of Media Examples in The Heuristic Process Model of Cultivation Effects • Rick W. Busselle, Washington State University • This study explores the influence of specific examples on judgments. Analysis is carried out in light of The Heurisitc Process Model of Cultivation Effects (Shrum, 1996). Ss (197) completed a traditional cultivation survey, and six weeks later were divided into two experimental conditions. Condition 1 performed an exemplar accessibility task measuring the amount of time required to think of an example of an extra-marital affair, a shooting, and an African-American doctor.

Developing an Integrated Theory of Recall of News Stories • Margaret H. DeFleur and Melvin L. DeFleur, Boston University • This paper has two objectives: First, an axiomatic theory of news recall is derived from studies of psychological attention sets, principles of perception, studies of folk-tale recall and theories of memory storage, Its seven propositions predict the general nature of patterns of recall among individuals who attend to and retell a typical spot new story. The second objective is to check these predictions against data obtained from a large-scale news recall experiment. The results indicate that the theory has predictive value.

News Coverage of “Moral” Issues, Priming of Candidate Integrity, and the Vote Choice • David Domke, Washington; Dhavan V. Shah, Wisconsin-Madison and Daniel B. Wackman, Minnesota • Relatively unexplored in political communization research is how issues commonly discussed by politicians and news media in “moral” terms influence citizens’ appraisals of candidate character and, through these evaluations, shape voting behavior. In this research, we theorize that moral issues not only influence electoral choices due to citizens’ acceptance or rejection of candidates based on issue stands, but also that thoughts about these issues “carryover” to other political judgments • in particular, perceptions of candidate integrity.

The Cognitive Mediation Model: A Framework for Studying Learning From the News With Survey Methods • William P. Eveland, Jr., Wisconsin • Often survey research on learning from the news implicitly uses a direct effects approach that assumes that exposure directly leads to learning. This paper provides a more sophisticated, multivariate theoretical framework for this area of research in the form of a “cognitive mediation model” based on experimental research in psychology. Existing survey measure that can use to test the model and existing for individual links in the model is summarized.

A Casual Approach to the Third- and First- Person Perceptions • Koji Fuse, Li Jing and Arthur Chang, Texas • This research integrates various contingent variables into c casual model for media effects attribution bias (i.e., third-person, and null perceptions), and uses structural equation modeling to test all path coefficients simultaneously. The analysis suggests the overall food for of the model to the data. Contrary to past findings, however , the path coefficient of ego-involvement on perceived media accuracy turned out to be positive, and that of ego-involvement on the third-/first-person perceptions negative.

The Effects of Tabloid and Standard Television News on Viewer Evaluations, Memory and Arousal • Maria Elizabeth Grabe, Shuhua Zhou, Annie Lang and Paul Bolls, Indiana University • The application of flamboyant video production features is primarily associated with advertising, movies, and MTV music videos. Advances in television production technology, however, have made the application of lavish production technology, however, have made the application of lavish production features less expensive and time consuming, thereby enabling television news producers to incorporate them into their package of news. At the same time, extravagant production features have become part of what critics refer to in their outrage against tabloid news.

Dependency and Control • August E. Grant, Youda Zhu, Debra Van Tuyll, Jennifer Teeter, Juan Carlos Molleda, Yousef Mohammad and Lee Bollinger, South Carolina • A fundamental criterion of any measure is that is be exhaustive, representing every possible value or dimension of the phenomenon is question. To date, the assertion the Ball-Rokeach’s (1985) six dimensions of individual media dependency are exhaustive has been unchallenged. It may be true that every possible goal related to the consumption of media content can be classified into one of the six dimensions, but there may be additional dimensions of individual media dependency that have not yet been explored.

Information Sufficiency and Risk Communication • Robert J. Griffin, Marquette University; Kurt Neuwirth, Cincinnati and Sharon Dunwoody, Wisconsin-Madison • Analysis of a survey of two Great Lakes cities develops and tests part of a model that focuses on characteristics of individuals that might predispose them to seek and process information about risks in different ways. Support is found for the model’s propositions that information sufficiency (a person’s sense of the amount of information needed to cope with a health risk) is based partially on affective response to the risk, which is based in part on perceptions of key characteristics of the risk.

Source Perception and Electrodermal Activity • No-Kon Heo and S. Shyam Sundar, Pennsylvania State University • The Multistage Sequential Model of Face Recognition was used to hypothesize a relationship between electrodermal activity evoked by various communication sources and audience perception of those sources. Skin conductance responses (SCRs) were recorded while subjects (N=28) watched images of 22 communication sources. Perceptions of sources were recorded via a questionnaire. Results showed that sources associated with different program genres evoked different levels of SCRs, and familiarity of sources was positively associated with the level of electrodermal activity.

The “Critics,” “Believers,” and “Outsiders” of Election Polls: Comparing Characteristics of the Third-Person Effect, First-Person Effect and Consensus Effect • Yu-Wei Hu, National Taiwan Normal University and Yi-Chen Wu, Catholic Fu-Jen University • This study utilizes the statistical method of discriminant analysis to illustrate the social and psychological characteristics of the third-person effect, the first person effects, and the consensus effect of election poll reports. The results of the analysis show that those who perceive a third-person effect of the poll reports are quite confident in making voting decisions on the basis of their own knowledge of the campaign activities. These people tend to question the legitimacy of election polling and are the critics of election poll reports.

Family Communication Patterns and Personality Characteristics • Li-Ning Huang, Central Connecticut • A survey was conducted to investigate the relationships between family communication patterns and a set of personality characteristics, including self-esteem, self-disclosure, self-monitoring, desirability of control, social desirability, shyness, and sociability. Results showed that subjects from pluralistic families exhibited greater desire for control, self esteem, and sociability, whereas those from protective families were more likely to be self-monitoring and shy.

Cognitive Innovativeness as a Predictor of Student Attitudes and Intent: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior to Online Learning Environments • Tracy Irani and Michelle O’Malley, Florida • This study, using TOPB as a framework, investigated the effect of internal and external cognitive innovativeness on attitudes, beliefs and behavioral intentions related to desire to experience an online Web-based course. Results indicated high internal and external innovators had more positive attitudes than low. Regression analysis suggested that attitude was predictive for high internal innovators, while for high cognitive innovators, attitude and norms were predictive.

The Therapeutic Application of Television: An Experimental Study • Charles Kingsley, Michigan State University • Television has been criticized for contributing to a great many antisocial effects, but it does have beneficialeffects as well. This study examines television’s effect on the mental and emotional health of outpatients. It was hypothesized that the viewing of a nature video qould significantly reduce the ourpatients’ stress levels. An exploratory filed experiment was conducted to test this hypothesis, and the results demonstated tentative support.

The Ability of the AIDS Quilt to Motivate Information Seeking, Personal Discussion and Behavior as a Health Communication Intervention • Christopher Stephen Knaus, Bruce E. Pinkleton and Erica Weintraub Austin, Washington State University • Several seldom-used approaches have demonstrated significant effects with regard to HIV and AIDS education and prevention. The NAMES Project Foundation’s AIDS Memorial Quilt is designed to encourage compassion and increased emotional appeal, which is intended to lead to increased desire to seek information and develop skills concerning the transmission and prevention of the disease. A field experiment (n=560) was used to examine the ability of the AIDS Quilt to motivate information seeking, personal discussion and behavioral outcomes among those who viewed it.

Revisiting the Knowledge Gap Hypothesis: Education, Motivation, and Media Use • Nojin Kwak, Wisconsin-Madison • The findings of this study support the significance of motivational variable and media use in modifying the relationship between education and knowledge acquisition. People’s behavioral involvement in the 1992 presidential campaign influenced the knowledge gap due to education such that the gap was significantly smaller among those with a higher level of involvement. Also, respondents’ TV news viewing during the campaign significantly reduced the knowledge gap between education groups; thus, the more frequently people watched news stories on TV, the smaller the impact of education on knowledge acquisition.

The Effects of Political Talk Radio On Political Attitude Formation: Exposure vs. Knowledge • Gang Heong Lee and Joseph N. Cappella, Pennsylvania • This paper examines the effects of political talk radio (PTR) on the formation of voters’ favorability toward political candidates. It was found that, when compared to a two-sided message, exposure to an ideologically partisan message has an impact on the listeners’ political favorability toward leaders that reflects the dominant direction of the message. Specifically, there is clear and consistent Rush Limbaugh PTR effect such that his party message undermines the Clintons and presidential performance while upholding the Republicans and their performance.

Predicting Online Service Adoption Likelihood Among Nonsubscribers • Carolyn A. Lin, Cleveland State University • As we approach the dawn of the digital television revolution, the convergence between television and online services continues to progress along technological as well as content dimensions. With further erosion of the television audience on the horizon, it is speculated that PC-TV use will on day displace traditional TV use. This study investigates the relations between perceived television use and online access motives among non-online subscribers • the audience segment that is being courted by the online industry, and how much relations influence the likelihood of online service adoption.

The Third-person Perception and Support for Restriction of Pornography: Some Methodological Problems • Ven-hwei Lo and Anna R. Paddon, National Chengchi University • The third-person effect hypothesis, that people perceive media to impact others more than themselves, also posits this perception may lead to greater support for censorship. Teens from 15 high schools in Taipei, Taiwan, were surveyed and the results support the existence of third-person effects. However, the magnitude of the perceptual bias between perceived first-and third-person effects. However, the magnitude of the perceptual bias between perceived first- and third-person effects did not predict support for restriction.

Television News Coverage of Social Protest: Framing Effects of Status Quo Bias • Douglas M. McLeod and Benjamin H. Detenber, Delaware • This study investigated framing effects of television news stories. Participants watched one of three news stories about an Anarchist protest, which differed by level of status quo bias (High vs. Medium vs. Low). Status quo bias had significant linear effects on perceptions of the protesters and police, tolerance for the protesters’ expressive rights, and estimates of the protest’s effectiveness, popular support and newsworthiness, but not to general perceptions of protest as a form of democratic expression.

Understanding Deliberation: The Effects of Discussion Networks on Participation in a Public Forum • Jack M. McLeod, Dietram A. Scheufele, Patricia Moy, Edward M. Horowitz, R. Lance Holbert, Weiwu Zhang, Stephen Zubric and Jessica Hicks, Wisconsin-Madison • Participation in a deliberative forum has received relatively little scrutiny relative to traditional forms of participation, such as voting or contacting an official. This study examines the role of individuals’ discussion networks in predicting their willingness to participate in a deliberative forum. Using data collected from a midwestern city in the fall of 1997 (n=416), we employed structural equation modeling techniques to examine a provisional model of public deliberation. This model identified two pathways linking network characteristics to participation in a deliberative forum.

Framing the Nicotine Debate: A Cultural Approach to Risk • Priscilla Murphy, Temple University • This study examined Congressional testimony, concerning regulation of tobacco advertising, by three policy factions representing industry, government, and lay activists. It was based on the cultural theory of risk, which divides policy disputants into entrepreneurial, bureaucratic, and egalitarian communities, each with a distinct cosmology. Major themes in the testimony were identified through semantic network analysis and clustering of associated words that revealed discourse patterns peculiar to each group and reflecting the cultural theory of risk.

Viewer Elaboration About News Video • Michael Murrie, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale • Based on the Elaboration Likelihood Model by Petty and Cacioppo, a Model of Interactive Media Elaboration is proposed to experimentally test the relationships of the independent variables • need for cognition, distraction, pacing (view time and pause time), and repetition • with the dependent variable, elaboration about nonlinear (interactive) video, measured by thinking aloud. Elaboration for linear and nonlinear video news stories was compared using a repeated measures crossover design. Elaboration was greater for nonlinear video.

Mood Congruence and the Utility of Sad Media Content•An Exploration of “Wallowing” • Kimberly A. Neuendorf, Cleveland State University • Drawing on the psychological literature on mood congruence, and the communication literature on mood management and uses and gratifications, an model is developed which examines functional congruent affect-seeking media behavior (i.e., “wallowing”). Questionnaire data from 86 undergraduates reveal (1) the existence of three distinct types of wallowing (active, passive, and “cathartic crying”), (2) no relationship between wallowing and media content preferences, even under conditions of state depression, and (3) some support for the prediction that wallowers will be more likely than non-wallowers to respond to depression with greater functional use of sad content.

Self-Consciousness and Personal Web Presence • Ghee-Young Noh, Michigan State University • This research attempts to test hypotheses regarding underlying factors that cause people to create similar personal homepagers. The results suggest that self-consciousness, especially private self-consciousness, affect several aspects of the Web design concept. Moreover, this research suggests that the concept of self-consciousness may be useful to identify or predict social identity and self-disclosure on Web presence. While public self-consciousness had effects on family identity presence, private self-consciousness had effects on self-disclosure.

Evidence for Selective Perception in the Processing of Health Campaign Messages •Ekaterina Ognianova, Southwest Texas State University and Esther Thorson, Missouri • This study tested the psychological mechanism that operates in audiences’ processing of health or safety campaign messages, specifically selective perception vs. perceptual defense. Three different surveys conducted in two Midwestern states between 1995 and 1997 provided consistent evidence for the operation of selective perception, especially in regards to messages that don’t call for radical changes in behavior. The study has both theoretical and practical implications for the understanding and design of health and safety campaigns.

Effects of Source Power Distance and Collective Versus Individual Appeal Strategies on Mexican-American and Anglo Young Adults’ Responses to Televised Alcohol Warnings • Anna Perea and Michael D. Slater, Colorado State University • This research examined the responses of 73 Mexican-American and Anglo young adults to four televised drinking and driving warnings., Warnings were manipulated into collective and individualist appeals, and to high and low power distance appeals through the use of a Surgeon General attribution. Females rated the collectivist warnings, and males the individualist warnings, more believable. Anglos rated warnings without the Surgeon General as the source more believable than warnings with the Surgeon General as the sources; the opposite was true for Latinos.

Identifying Structure Features of Radio: Orienting and Memory for Radio Messages • Robert F. Potter, Annie Lang and Paul Bolls, Indiana University • This paper examines the ability of nine different structural and content features of radio to elicit orienting responses from radio listeners. It further tests the effect of the orienting response on listeners’ memory for information presented immediately following the orienting eliciting feature. Results show that eight of the nine features elicit orienting responses. On average, memory is better for information presented following those features than it is for information presented before the features.

From Framing to Frame Theory: A Research Method Turns Theoretical Concept • Wim Roefs, South Carolina • Through a thematic discussion of the development of frame research in mass communications studies, the paper explains how ‘framing’ has turned from a research method into a theoretical concept that is increasingly at the center of mass communications studies. At the end, it is proposed that researchers make a distinction between “framing” and “frame theory” to avoid semantic confusion.

Perceptions of Media Power and Moral Influence: Issue Legitimacy and the Third-Person Effect • Michael B. Salwen, Michel Dupagne and Bryant Paul, Miami • A national telephone survey was conducted to investigate whether the perceived legitimacy of issues mediates the third-person effect. The third-person effect involves two general hypotheses: (1) a perceptual hypothesis, which predicts that people perceive other people to be more vulnerable than themselves to harmful media effects; and (2) a behavioral hypotheses, which predicts that perceiving others as more vulnerable increases support for restrictions. Issue legitimacy was hypothesized to reduce third-person perception and support for restrictions.

Persuasive Power and Effect Negativity: Assessing Perceived Media Influence to Test the Third-Person Effect Hypothesis • Dhavan V. Shah, Ronald J. Faber, Seounmi Han Youn and Hernando Rojas, Minnesota • In this study, we posit that two distinct factors underlie both the perceptual and the behavioral components of the third-person effect hypothesis: The estimated power (the amount of influence) and the estimated negativity (the valence of influence) of mass communications. To explore these issues, we surveyed 194 adults, using a mall-intercept procedure, who estimated the power and negativity of various types of advertising messages on self and others, and expressed their willingness to censor these classes of commercials.

Psychological Process in Perceiving Reality • Michael A. Shapiro and T. Makana Chock, Cornell University • Little attention has been paid to the mental processes and story elements influencing moment-to-moment perceived reality judgments. One possibility is that people compare story elements to a typical prototype. In three experiments a manipulation of atypical information in a “soap opera” or a news story predicted about half the variance in perceived reality. In a fourth experiment, participants used dials to continuously rate entertainment television shows for interest, liking, typicality, or perceived reality.

Deeper Into Media Use Motivations: The Role of Biology in Media Use • John L. Sherry, Arizona • Little media research and theory has addressed the contribution of biologically rooted individual differences to media use or effects. This study examines the relationship between television use motivations and individual differences in temperament, a multi-dimensional variable which is biologically rooted, stable across the lifespan and accounts for how individuals differ in behavioral tendencies. A survey was conducted of 285 undergraduates using he Dimensions of Temperament Survey and the Greenberg Uses and Gratifications scale.

The Role of Intentionally in Social Explanation: How Individual Difference Variables Can Help Build Communications Theories of Persuasion • Janas E. Sinclair, Florida •Philosophers of science emphasize that social scientific theories provide the most complete explanation of phenomenon when they account for the intentions of individuals. In this paper it is argued that mass communication theories of persuasion are also best able to explain human behavior when the intentions of individuals are considered. Mass communication theories of persuasion that do not account for intentions are examined. Individual differences variables are also examined as a way in which researchers may account for the intentions of individuals.

Effects of Media Use on Audience Framing and Support for Welfare • Mira Sotirovic, Illinois-Urbana-Champaign • This paper examines cognitive structures underlying individuals’ simple preferential response to a survey question measuring attitudes toward welfare. The closed-ended question was followed by an open-ended question used to obtain cognitive responses consisting of frames used in individuals’ reasoning about consequences of cutting welfare benefits. From the results it is evident that media are important source of frames that people use to think about issues. More importantly, those frames that are related to particular patterns of media use seem to have power to alter even deep ideologically motivated welfare preferences.

Germany and the United States Mirrored: An Exploration of Computer-Assisted Content Analysis • Robert L. Stevenson, North Carolina; Sabine Stiemerling and Antje Brockmann, Ludwig Maximilians-UniversitSt MYnchen and Haoming Denis Wu, North Carolina • Content analysis, used in one-quarter to one-third of recently published communication research articles, has been influenced, albeit modestly to date, by rapid growth in availability of electronic news archives and simple computer programs that expand the range of material examined and, to some degree, emulate traditional coding techniques. This study addressed the question of the image of the United States and Germany as reflected in two major daily newspapers, the New York Times and SYddeutsche Zeitung of Munich, as a case study of computer-assisted content analysis.

Mass Media and Social Change: A Theoretical and Methodological Comparison of the Tradition and the Future • Andrew H. Utterback, University of Utah • The purpose of this essay is to describe and differentiate research concerned with media and social change from two theoretical and methodological camps: the sociological tradition and a cultural studies approach. The essay shows that a cultural studies approach serves to increase our understanding of the relationship between media and social change through an expansion of our filed of objects of study, a (re)valuation of validity over reliability in our choice of methods, and a concrete and explicit concern for the success of the goals of cultural, political, material, and social equality above the myths of scientific objectivism.

Video Violence: Desensitization and Excitation Effects on Learning • Bradford L. Yates, Michelle Ballard, Mary Ann Ferguson, Kirk Filer, Ann Villanueva, Alison Knott and Tracy Cristal, Florida • An experiment tested desensitization and excitation effects of video violence on learning.

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