Mass Communication Talk

Information-Processing Theory

The Information Processing Theory

Information-Processing Theory

Information processing theory Theory that uses mechanistic analogies to describe and interpret how people deal with all the stimuli they receive the elaboration likelihood model.

Drawing on the same metaphors as systems theory (Chapter 7), information processing theory uses mechanistic analogies to describe and interpret how each of us takes in and makes sense of the flood of information our senses encounter every moment of each day. It assumes that individuals operate like complex biocomputers with certain built-in information-handling capacities and strategies. Each day we are exposed to vast quantities of sensory information. We filter this information so only a small portion of it ever reaches our conscious mind. Only a tiny fraction of this information is singled out for attention and processing, and we finally store a tiny amount of this in long-term memory. We are not so much information handlers as information avoiders—we have developed sophisticated mechanisms for screening out irrelevant or useless information. Our capacity to cope with sensory information is easily overwhelmed so that we make mistakes by failing to take in and process critical information.

Limited cognitive resources In information processing theory, idea that as more resources are directed toward one task, another will suffer

Strengths of Information Processing Theory

  1. Provides specificity for what is generally considered routine, unimportant behavior
  2. Provides objective perspective on learning; mistakes are routine and natural
  3. Permits exploration of a wide variety of media content
  4. Produces consistent results across a wide range of communication situations and settings

Weakness of Information Processing Theory

  1. Is too oriented toward the micro-level
  2. Overemphasizes routine media consumption
  3. Focuses too much on cognition, ignoring such factors as emotion
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