Research , Importance of Research, Aims and Motives

Why Research? Importance of Research. Aims and Motives of social research.

What Is Research?

Research comprises “creative work undertaken on a systematic basis in order to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications.” It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field. To test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects, or the project as a whole. The primary purposes of basic research (as opposed to applied research) are documentation, discovery, interpretation, or the research and development (R&D) of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies, which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences. There are several forms of research: scientific, artistic, economic, social, business, marketing, practitioner research, life, technological etc.

Research has been defined in a number of different ways.

A broad definition of research is given by Godwin Colibao – “In the broadest sense of the word, the definition of research includes any gathering of data, information and facts for the advancement of knowledge.’’

Another definition of research is given by John W. Creswell who states that – “Research is a process of steps used to collect and analyze information to increase our understanding of a topic or issue”. It consists of three steps: Pose a question, collect data to answer the question, and present an answer to the question.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines research in more detail as “a studious inquiry or examination; especially investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws”

Importance of research

Research is actually an act of studying something carefully and extensively in order to attain deep knowledge in the same. For being successful, research should be systematic, arranged, summarized and recorded properly. Research is not only a process that is limited to the field of science. It can, as well, cater to people and scholars from artistic, historic or any other field where an individual is willing to do extensive study to get relevant information. Research can be creative, exploring or just reassuring in nature. Each one of us does some or the other research in our lifetime for sure. Research can affect a subject both positively and negatively and can be constructive or destructive in nature. Some people believe that research is mostly destructive in nature. However, you need to understand that it’s not the results from a research that determine its use; it’s the people who handle the results. In the following lines, we have just tried to emphasize the importance of research.

Significance of Research

To Gather Necessary Information

Research provides you with all necessary information in field of your work, study or operation before you begin working on it. For example, most companies do research before beginning a project in order to get a basic idea about the things they will need to do for the project. Research also helps them get acquainted with the processes and resources involved and reception from the market. This information helps in the successful outcome of the project.

To Make Changes

Sometimes, there are in-built problems in a process or a project that is hard to discover. Research helps us find the root cause and associated elements of a process. The end result of such a research invokes a demand for change and sometimes is successful in producing changes as well. For example, many U.N researches have paved way for changes in environmental policies.

Improving Standard Of Living

Only through research can new inventions and discoveries come into life. It was C.V Raman’s research that prompted invention of radio communication. Imagine how you would have communicated had Graham Bell not come out with the first ever practical telephone! Forget telephones, what would have happened if Martin Cooper did not present the world the concept of mobile phones! Addicted as we are to mobile phones, we need to understand that all the luxuries and the amenities that are now available to us are the result of research done by someone. And with the world facing more and crisis each day, we need researchers to find new solutions to tackle them.

 For A Safer Life

Research has made ground breaking discoveries and development in the field of health, nutrition, food technology and medicine. These things have improved the life expectancy and health conditions of human race in all parts of the world and helped eradicate diseases like polio, smallpox completely. Diseases that were untreatable are now history, as new and new inventions and research in the field of medicine have led to the advent of drugs that not only treat the once-incurable diseases, but also prevent them from recurring.

 To Know the Truth

It has been proved time and again that many of established facts and known truths are just cover ups or blatant lies or rumors. Research is needed to investigate and expose these and bring out the truth.

Research form an important aspect in any profession. As per the dictionary meaning Research is a systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

The primary purpose of any research is of discovering, interpretation and analysis of information so to enhance human knowledge.

Research in Mass Communication and Journalism forms a core aspect in decision making, expressing and analyzing of news, views and information. Media is a very sensitive area as it is connected to the masses therefore care should be taken in the delivery of the message to the masses.

Accuracy and Objectivity is must in news reporting. A story should always be well researched before publishing or airing on TV. In Broadcast Media different programs are produced to run 24 hours news channels for that knowing audience behavior. Audience behavioral research can give an idea to a researcher. A good program is always a well researched program.

Media practitioner can do their job more effectively if they get to know about the target audience which can help them in planning and executing programs. Media research is also used in conducting surveys, public opinion polls, Advertising and Public Relations campaigns which helps in providing perspective to a report.

Top 5 Major Objectives of Social Research

This article throws light on the five major objectives of social research, i.e,

(1)Manipulation of Things, Concepts and Symbols,

(2) Generalization,

(3)Verification of Old Facts,

(4) Extension of Knowledge,

(5) Knowledge May be Used for Theory Building or Practical Application.


  1. Manipulation of Things, Concepts and Symbols:

While, dealing with things the scientist remains at the concrete level. He is able to purposefully handle things for experimentation. But at this level his results are at best limited to the particular thing in a specific situation and none else. Therefore the concepts symbolizing the things and their properties are also dealt with, so as to make much sense to conduct controlled inquiries through abstract notions. Use of concepts or symbols in the process of manipulation not only reduces the content and load of the things but also provides the scientist with greater facility and effect.

  1. Generalization:

The sole purpose with which manipulation of things, concepts or symbols is undertaken is to arrive at statements of generality. It implies that the findings of controlled investigation should be a conclusion which will enable us to expect that under certain class of conditions influencing a class of things, something will happen in a generalized manner, notwithstanding its degree.

But in any case the absence is generality cannot characterize science. Therefore the propositions derived on the basis of observations and through manipulation of things, concepts or symbols may vary in their levels of generality, may maintain a high or low degree but should never reach the null point.

Otherwise those will move beyond the framework of science. In this regard, Slesinger and Stepheson have given the example of a physician or automobile mechanic as playing the role of a researcher. Whereas the automobile mechanic endeavors to generalize about the automobiles, the physician attempts to make ailments for a given class of patients.

  1. Verification of Old Facts:

A major purpose of social research is verification of conclusions which have already been accepted as established facts. Since there is no place for complacency in the arena of science, the established system of knowledge always warrant frequentative scrutiny so as to confirm whether or not the observations are in accordance with the predictions made on the basis of the established corpus of knowledge. In case it is confirmed, the empirical observation strengthens the established system of knowledge. Otherwise in the light of the research outcome, the system of established corpus of knowledge calls for revision or even rejection.

  1. Extension of Knowledge:

As a sequel to generalization the seemingly inconsistencies in the existing corpus of knowledge are brought into light and attempts are made to reconcile these inconsistencies. The new general proposition, established as an outcome of research also identifies gaps in the established system of knowledge. A gap in knowledge implies the inadequacy of the theory as well as the failure of a conceptual scheme to explain and account for certain aspects of a social phenomenon.

The gap is bridged up in the light of the new empirical observations. Thus knowledge gets expanded. The expansion of systematic knowledge occurs at least in a couple of ways. First in cognizing certain aspects of phenomena which were not examined in these terms prior to the advent of the new general proposition.

Secondly in the light of new observation, the phenomena under investigation may be incorporated in a comparatively large class of phenomena, so as to be governed by a uniform law. As a result, the new system of knowledge not only accumulates more units under its conceptual scheme, but also appreciates greater depth of understanding and bettering of predictions.

  1. Knowledge May be Used for Theory Building or Practical Application:

By seeking to explain the unexplained social phenomena, clarifying the doubtful one and correcting the misconceived facts relating to it, social research provides the scope to use the fruits of research in two possible ways:

(a) Theory building

(b) Practical application.

In its basic or pure form social research gathers knowledge for the sake of it, for building a theory in order to explain human behavior in its totality, only for the satisfaction of knowing. For construction of theoretic models, the researcher organizes knowledge into propositions and then meaningfully articulated those propositions to constitute a more abstract conceptual system pertaining to a class of phenomena, influenced by a certain class of conditions.

In its practical or applied form, social research gathers information regarding the betterment of quality of life in social settings. The findings of social research are used as the means to an end, not construed just as an end in itself From its utilitarian point of view the results of social research provide decision makers with proper guidelines for policy making, social welfare, amelioration of practical problems, mitigation or resolution of social conflict and tensions as well as rectification and removal of social evils.

Research In Mass Communication

During the early part of the twentieth century, there was no interest in the size of an audience or in the types of people who make up the audience. Since then, mass media operators have come to rely on research results for nearly every major decision they make. The increased demand for information has created a need for more researchers, both public and private. In addition, within the research field are many specializations. Research directors plan and supervise studies and act as liaisons to management; methodological specialists provide statistical support; research analysts design and interpret studies; and computer specialists provide hardware and software support in data analysis.

Research in mass media is used to verify or refute opinions or intuitions for decision makers. Although common sense is some- times accurate, media decision makers need additional objective information to evaluate problems, especially when they make decisions that involve large sums of money. The past 60 years have witnessed the evolution of a decision-making approach that com bines research and intuition to produce a higher probability of success.

Research is not limited only to decision- making situations. It is also widely used in theoretical areas to attempt to describe the media, to analyze media effects on consumers, to understand audience behavior, and so on. Every day there are references in the media to audience surveys, public opinion polls, growth projections, status reports of one medium or another, or advertising or public relations campaigns. As philosopher Suzanne Langer (1967) said, “Most new discoveries are suddenly-seen things that were always there.” Mass media researchers have a great deal to see, and virtually everyone is exposed to this information every day.

Two final points before we get into media research: First, media research and the need for qualified researchers will continue to grow, but it is difficult to find qualified researchers who can work in the public and private sectors. Second, we urge you to search the Internet for additional information on every topic discussed in this book. We have identified some areas for further investigation, but do not limit your searching to only our suggestions. Internet searches are not good for primary research, but they are useful as a starting point for information gathering.

Origins and Growth of Mass Media Research

At least four major events or social forces have encouraged the growth of mass media research.

The first was World War I, which prompted a need to understand the nature of propaganda. Researchers working from a stimulus-response point of view attempted to uncover the effects of the media on people (Lasswell, 1927). The media at that time were thought to exert a powerful influence over their audiences, and several assumptions were made about what the media could and could not do. One theory of mass media, later named the hypodermic needle model of communication, suggested that mass communicators need only “shoot” messages at an audience and those messages would produce preplanned and al- most universal effects. The belief then was that all people behave in similar ways when they encounter media messages. We know now that individual differences among people rule out this overly simplistic view. As DeFleur and Ball-Rokeach (1989) note

These assumptions may not have been explicitly formulated at the time, but they were drawn from fairly elaborate theories of human nature, as well as the nature of the social order. . . . It was these theories that guided the thinking of those who saw the media as powerful.

A second contributor to the development of mass media research was the realization by advertisers in the 1950s and 1960s that research data are useful in developing ways to persuade potential customers to buy products and services. Consequently, advertisers encouraged studies of message effectiveness, audience demographics and size, placement of advertising to achieve the highest level of exposure (efficiency), frequency of advertising necessary to persuade potential customers, and selection of the medium that offered the best chance of reaching the target audience.

A third contributing social force was the increasing interest of citizens in the effects of the media on the public, especially on children. The direct result was an interest in research related to violence and sexual content in television programs and in commercials aired during children’s programs. Researchers have expanded their focus to include the positive (prosocial) as well as the negative (antisocial) effects of television. Investigating violence on television is still an important endeavor, and new research is published every year.

Increased competition among the media for advertising dollars was a fourth contributor to the growth of research. Most media managers are now sophisticated and use managers are now sophisticated and use and an increasing dependency on data to support the decisions they make. Even program producers seek relevant research data, a task usually assigned to the creative side of program development. In addition, the mass media now focus on audience fragmentation, which means that the mass of people is divided into small groups, or niches (technically referred to as the “demassification” of the mass media). Researchers need information about these smaller groups of people.

The competition among the media for audiences and advertising dollars continues to reach new levels of complexity. The media “survival kit” today includes information about consumers’ changing values and tastes, shifts in demographic patterns, and developing trends in lifestyles. Audience fragmentation increases the need for trend studies (fads, new behavior patterns), image studies (people’s perceptions of the media and their environment), and segmentation studies (explanations of behavior by types or groups of people). Large research organizations, consultants, and media owners and operators conduct research that was previously considered the sole property of the marketing, psychology, and sociology disciplines. With the advent of increased competition and audience fragmentation media managers more frequently use marketing strategies in an attempt to discover their position in the marketplace. When this position is identified, the medium is packaged as an “image” rather than a product. (Similarly, the producers of consumer goods such as soap and toothpaste try to sell the “image” of these products because the products themselves are similar, if not the same, from company to company.)

This packaging strategy involves deter mining what the members of the audience think, how they use language, how they spend their spare time, and so on. Information on these ideas and behaviors is then used in the merchandising effort to make the medium seem to be part of the audience Positioning thus involves taking information from the audience and interpreting the data to use in marketing the medium. (For more information about positioning companies and products in the business and consumer worlds, see Ries & Trout, 1997, 2001.)

Much of the media research before the early 1960s originated in psychology and sociology departments at colleges and universities. Researchers with backgrounds in the media were rare because the mass media were young. But this situation has changed. Media departments in colleges and universities grew rapidly in the 1960s, and media researchers entered the scene. Today mass media researchers dominate the mass media research field, and now the trend is to encourage cross-disciplinary studies in which media researchers invite participation from sociologists, psychologists, and political scientists. Because of the pervasiveness of the media, researchers from all areas of science are now actively involved in attempting to answer media-related questions.

Modern mass media research includes a variety of psychological and sociological investigations, such as physiological and emotional responses to television programs, commercials, or music played on radio stations. In addition, computer modeling and other sophisticated computer analyses are now commonplace in media research to determine such things as the potential success of television programs (network or syndicated). Once considered eccentric by some, mass media research is now a legitimate and esteemed field.

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Mass Media Research By WIMMER & DOMINICK

Mass Media Research By ROGER D. WIMMER & JOSEPH R. DOMINICK 9th Edition

Part One

The Research Process

Chapter 1

Science and Research 1

Chapter 2

Elements of Research 42

Chapter 3

Research Ethics 64

Chapter 4

Sampling 86

Part Two

Research Approaches

Chapter 5

Qualitative Research Methods 114

Chapter 6

Content Analysis 155

Chapter 7

Survey Research 184

Chapter 8

Longitudinal Research 218

Chapter 9

Experimental Research 238

Part Three

Data Analysis

Chapter 10

Introduction to Statistics 266

Chapter 11

Hypothesis Testing 289

Chapter 12

Basic Statistical Procedures 304

Part Four

Research Applications

Chapter 13

Newspaper and Magazine

Research 332

Chapter 14

Research in the Electronic Media 350

Chapter 15

Research in Advertising 380

Chapter 16

Research in Public Relations 405


Things change constantly in all areas of life, and it is sometimes difficult to keep up with all the changes. In every edition of this text, we are faced with several new technologies and research approaches that didn’t exist in a previous edition. It has been interesting to watch the development of such things as satellite television and radio, the Internet, MP3 players, CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray, and more. Each invention offers a wealth of new research topics and opportunities, and it has been fun to observe how mass communication constantly changes.

As mass media teachers and professional researchers, we want to provide you with the most detailed and most current information possible. However, that is a difficult task with a textbook since changes in mass media research happen frequently. Our best alternative, therefore, is to help you find the most current information about the topics we discuss in this text.

Therefore, throughout this text, we provide many Internet searches to help you find more information about the topics we discuss in the book. Please use these search suggestions. You’ll see that we use a specific format for the searches we suggest. Enter the search exactly as we suggest, although you may feel free to go beyond the searches we provide. The format we use for Internet searches is italics. That is, whenever we suggest an Internet search, the search is shown in italics. If you see quote marks with the search, be sure to include those because they are important in refining the search and eliminating useless information. For example, if we recommend that you search the Internet for more information about this text and suggest “Mass media research” Wimmer Dominick, then input your search exactly as written, including the quote marks. If you are new to using Internet search engines, please go to our book website at and read the article about using search engines in the “Readings” section.

Approach and Organization As in the previous editions, our goal is to provide you with the tools you need to use mass media research in the professional world through simplified explanations of goals, procedures, and uses of information in mass media research. We want you to be comfortable with research and to recognize its unlimited value, so we use extensive practical applications to illustrate its use in the world today.

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Communication Research By National Open University of Nigeria

Communication Research By National Open University of Nigeria in pdf format

Module 1 Introduction
Unit 1 The Meaning of Research and the Scientific Method
Unit 2 Application of the Scientific Principles to Social Research
Unit 3 Characteristics of and the Development of Mass Media
Unit 4 Classification of Research
Module 2 The Elements of Research
Unit 1 Concepts, Constructs, Hypotheses/Research Questions and
Unit 2 Variables
Unit 3 Measurement, Scales and Indexes
Module 3 Major Communication Research Methods
Unit 1 Experimental Research
Unit 2 Survey Research
Unit 3 Content Analysis
Unit 4 Case study
Unit 5 Observational Research
Module 4 Sampling
Unit 1 Meaning and Types of Sampling
Unit 2 Population and Sample
Unit 3 Sample Size and Sampling Error
Module 5 The Research Procedure
Unit 1 The Research Proposal
Unit 2 Data Analysis in Communication Research
Unit 3 Documentation in Communication Research
Module 6 Areas of Mass Communication Research
Unit 1 Print Media Research
Unit 2 Electronic Media Research
Unit 3 Public Relations Research
Unit 4 Advertising Research
Unit 5 Media Effects Research


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Theory and Research in Mass Communication: Contexts and Consequences

Theory and Research in Mass Communication: Contexts and Consequences By David K. Perry

Second Edition

Citizens, policymakers, and communication practitioners who are concerned about mass communication issues otfutrenn t o the academic community for answers. Their questions often involve such things as whether, to what extent, or why media violence or sex contributote asn tisocial or criminal behavior among audiences. The answers often are not as simple or consistent as they might like. As one scholar put it:

only after much research has been completed does a statement come tboe viewed int he scholarly community as tru-ea status very few communication theories are ever likely to reach. Even then, the truth value is to be found more in the degree of agreement among scholars, an intersubjective criterion, than in any ultimate reality. (Chaffee, 1991, p. 11) Definitions of truth as scholarly consensus are often found in modem literatures of the history (e.g.K, uhn, 1970) and philosophyo f science (e.g., H.I. Brown, 1977). They are not a producotf the present century. During the 19th century, pragmatist philosopher Charles Peirce (1878/1957) defined truth as that “opinion which is fated to be ultimately agreed to who investigate” (pp.5 3-54).P eirce believed that proper inquiry (at least if carried on to infinity) could lead members of a scientific community, who initially might disagree, to reach inevitable conclusions. His stress consensus simply assumed that many heaadrse better than one and that truth is a product of many minds.

Of course, as Peirce recognized,i t is perhaps best not to definet ruth solely in terms of whatever a community of inquirers accepts. For example, one must excludteh e possibility that scientists will accepftr audulent research. Similarly, political or religious dogma sometimes may determine the conclusions of scholars, most obviouslyin totalitarian societies. Hence, notions of usefulness and/or some sort of correspondence may remain necessary (seeth e appendix). In fact, scientists often consider a scientific idea valido r true because they findit useful and/or believe that it corresponds to the external world (Kaplan, 1964).

Today, Peirce’s consensus criterion may seem too optimistic. Serious doubts persist that science progresses bya ttaining ever closer approximations of any ultimate reality (Hesse, 1980; Kuhn, 1970). Rather, different ideas about phenomena may gain currencayt different timep eriods before sometimes fallinogu t of favor and perhaps reappearing later in a modified formI. n short, research frequently shows no signs of satisfying what Dewey (1929) called the quest for certainty. Because of this, scholarly disagreement perhaps may always exist about the degree of truth in almost any social scientific idea. Faced with this, how might those who would like to use research react to the available, but less than certain, conclusions of scholars? Perhaps another pragmatist, William James, provided an answer. Untial nd unless inquiry attains Peirce’s ideals, “we have to live to-day by what truth we can get to-day, and be ready to-morrow to call it falsehood” (James, 1907/1975, p. 107). Here, as elsewherien their work, Peirce had his eytreu tohn a s generality, and James focused on what woirnk sp articular situations. Their positions display two different philosophical viewpoints -realism and nominalism – found within both pragmatism and philosophy more generally (Lewis & R.L. Smith, 1980). Realists such as Peircea rgue that universals (e.g., scientific laws or essences of objects such as blue jays) exist separately from the human mind. In contrast, nominalists like James deny their existence or see them (but often not the physical world) as mindimposed. The phrase ”only particulars exist“ (Pepper, 1942; p. 214; italics original) effectively captures the nominalist view.

This issue (see also the appendix) has many implications for both communication research and life more generally. References to it arise at various places in this book. For example, the United States is a quite socially nominalistic society( see Lewis & R.L. Smith, 1980). Itsc ulture emphasizes individuality more than commonality or community. i nT makoedne ration, nominalism probably has positive consequences, encouraging individual initiatives that benefit all. However, certaino f fcoormmms unity ties, which some forms of mass media may disrupt (see chap. 9), appear to promote economic prosperity, human health, and public safety (Putnam, 2000). In his most famous essay, ”WTihlle t o Believe,” James (1898/1960a)d – dressed the problems people face when they must respond to uncertain situations, sucha s whether to believine God. Writteni n the late 19th century, the essay primarily referred to maonradl religious questions, rather than to scientific ones. His essay explicitly rejected scientism, the “pernicious exaggerationo f both thes tatus and functiono f science in relation to our values” (Kaplan, 1964, p. 405).

James began by definingli v ae hypothesis as a proposal that seems possibly true, and hence a potengtuiaidl e to action, to a person considering it. For example, a researcher, policymaker, or consumer who reviews evidence concerningt he long-term behavioral impacto f exposure to television and televised violenocne t he young( see chap. 10) might find two live hypotheses. Perhaps exposure early in life increases the total amounoft violent, criminal behavior that young people engage iwn hen they reach the crime-prone ageosf late adolescencea nd early adulthood (Centerwall, 1989). Yet it may have no long-term effect on aggressiveness (Milavsky, Kessler, Stipp, & Rubens, 1982). In contrast, any idea that such exposure reduces overall behavioral violence now seems quite implausible. In James’ terms, it seems a dead hypothesis.

Two competing live hypotheses do not necessarily present a genuine option, according to JamesT. o do so, the choice must involve two additional conditions. It must have momentous (or pearth laepast nontrivial) consequences, and some decision between the hypotheses must be inescapable. Obviouslyi, n a purely intellectual sense, one can easily suspend one’s judgment.

However, someone who does so may face a “real-world” decision. A parent may wonder whether to limict h ail d’s exposure. A network executive or government policymaker may consider ato rpelastnr ict the amount of violence during prime-time hours. In James’ terms, these choices certainly are more genuine thwaans the intellectual one. They may or may be momentous depending on the actual consequoefn bcoetsh mediatedv iolence and the contemplated action. Nonetheless, the person must either act or fail to act. Hence, James’ (1898/1960) central thesis: Our passional nature noot nly lawfully may, but must, decidaen option between propositions, whenever it is a genuine option that cannot by its nature be decided on intellectual grounds; for to say, under such circumstances, “Do not decide, but leave the question open,” is itself a passional decision, -j ust like decidingy es or no, -and is attended with the samries k of losing the truth. @. 11)

In emphasizing the function of values in everyday life, James was responding to scientistic thinkers of his day who argued that it is always wrong to believe anything, such as the existeonf cGe od, without conclusive evidence. Such thinking reflects a vatlhuaet a person is betteor ff to risk failingt o detect truth than to risk making an error about B iyt . its nature, science usually proceeds cautiously. According to its dominant values, the judgment of the scientific community in some ways should resemble that of a jury, which must acquit a criminal as long as any reasonable doubt exists of the person’s guilt. Those responsible for public policy sometimes proceed in a similar fashion. According to Rowland (1983), the less-than-conclusive results of past media violence research sometimes have allowed policymakers to appear concerned and avoid taking regulatory action. Nor is this necessarily inappropriate. Restricting media violence by law or public policy could have dangerous consequences for other civil liberties, for instance. Perhaps beocfa uthsies , and the influence of powerful commercial television industries, possib”lyth e level of ‘proof’ demanded goes well beyond what is usually accepted in less controversial social science research” (Huston, 1987, p. 942). Audiences are not bound ttoh e same standards, however. After weighing both the evidence and potential consequences of allowing a child to view violencew ithout restriction, the parent might or might not dectiod e limit exposure. For examplhee, or she might restrict viewing based on after recognizintgh at children do not havet he same legal rights to view media contents daso adults. Nevertheless, the parent might fitnhde evidence less than convincing or decide that only a slight chance exists that television will affectht e child negatively. Thus, he or she might conclude that no restriction is needed. In any case, the parent’s concern is with a specific situation.

James came to regrtehte title of his essay. It left him otpoe nch arges of encouraging wanton or wishful thinking. He believed that the phrase “Right to Believe,” instead of “Will to Believe,” better summarized its theme (Murphy,1 990).I n short, people can base their actions on whatever evidence is available, as wealls their values. Thus, mass communication consumers today have a ritgoh bt elieve or noat,n d to act or not, after taking evidencei nto account. In such a light, this bioso inkt ended for a very broad audience, including scientists, teachers, studentsa, nd anyone else concerned with mass communication issues.

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Should the power of propaganda be used for democratic ends (the Lasswell/Lippmann view), or because propaganda, by its very existence, was antidemocratic, was education the best way to deal with it (the Dewey view)? The disagreement over the proper place of propaganda in a democracy was no theoretical exercise. Social scientists believed the fate of the country, the world in fact, rested on its outcome.

In 1937, the threat of external propaganda was so great that a group of social scientists, journalists, and educators founded the Institute for Propaganda Analysis with the goal of orchestrating a nationwide educational effort to combat its effects. During the four years of its existence, the institute was quite productive, generating numerous pamphlets, books, and articles explaining how propaganda works (read more about propaganda techniques in the box entitled “Applying the Seven Propaganda Techniques”). The institute was successful in developing an antipropaganda curriculum adopted by high schools and adult education programs across the country. It was so successful that it came under attack for undermining the effectiveness of propaganda techniques seen as essential to defending democracy.

In 1941, an opponent and a defender of the institute’s educational efforts faced off in the pages of Public Opinion Quarterly, a journal that devoted considerable attention to propaganda during the 1930s and 1940s. Bruce L. Smith questioned the value of propaganda analysis, that is, education, because he believed it fostered cynicism that could actually lead most students toward authoritarian views. At the time he wrote this article, he headed the U.S. Justice Department’s efforts to censor propaganda and arrest foreign agents who engaged in it. He argued:

Students at first become tremendously interested in the sportive side of launching an attack on “propaganda devices.” . . . After this first excitement, they tend to become morally indignant, at least in most cases, about the sheer quantity of fraud and misleading utterance to which they have been exposed all their lives, especially in paid advertising and in political speeches. At this point they have a tendency to espouse some program or other of violent censorship and even suppression of those who issue “antisocial” propaganda. They demand a Board of Public Opinion Censors, with wide and confiscatory powers. At this level of opposition to free speech many of them remain, even if it is pointed out to them that censorship of anyone who claims to support democracy is in no way compatible with the traditions and program of the American people.

Smith was cynical in his assessment of the ability of ordinary students to learn how to deal with propaganda on a day-to-day basis. Only a few could be expected to be “far-sighted” and able to develop the “intellectual vitality” to “undertake the lifelong burden of preserving free speech.” His argument was that the burden would prove to be so heavy that those who carried it would demand censorship rather than education as the solution to combating propaganda. Smith saw the American social order as inherently, and properly, elitist—a democracy of the few because the many had little ability to participate effectively. Average people must necessarily be governed by a paternalistic elite. But if education wouldn’t work, then what was the alternative? According to Smith (1941, p. 252), “The teacher, therefore, needs to look ahead. To be sure, democracy demands that we constantly and vigorously practice propaganda analysis (education). But we must also look beyond it to the establishment of a ‘science of democracy,’ of which propaganda analysis is but one indispensable part.”

But what was the “science of democracy” and how would it be superior to propaganda analysis’s educational approach? Smith explained:

Students frightened by their recent discovery of the gullibility and irrationality of the great mass of mankind cannot be expected to retain much faith in the value of social control by democratic discussion. To preserve and develop this faith, it is necessary to encourage them to analyze and appraise the potency of such common mechanisms of wishful thinking as regression, rationalization, repression, projection, sadism, and masochism. It is not necessary, however, to clutter up their vocabularies with a great number of terms like these in order to put over the essential points. What is needed is a concise, structuralized picture of individual human motives, comparable with the structuralized picture of society already drawn. (Smith, 1941, p. 258)

What Smith was proposing was a form of “democratic propaganda” that could be used to combat the cynicism generated by propaganda analysis. Students who suddenly realized just how gullible they and others were and how systematically they were being manipulated had to be reassured that there were elite experts who understood this phenomenon and had developed concepts to deal with it. But since these concepts were too hard and too complicated to explain, they needed to be simplified into a “concise, structuralized picture” that didn’t “clutter up the vocabularies with a great number of terms.” In other words, they needed to be subjected to “good” propaganda; in Bernays’s terms, they needed to have their consent engineered.

Clyde Miller, an education professor at Columbia University and secretary for the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, found Smith’s call for good or democratic propaganda unpersuasive:

In propaganda analysis the Institute has been emphasizing an objective, scientific approach to controversial issues and, as an integral part of that approach, has been trying to build—to use Mr. Smith’s phrase—“a vigorous faith in the values and ultimate triumph of democratic practice.” Mr. Smith states that many teachers have been making early attempts to build “propaganda resistance” among their students. True. It is not propaganda resistance, however valuable as that may be at times in dealing with antidemocratic propagandas, which is stressed in the educational program of the Institute for Propaganda Analysis; it is understanding of why and how propaganda works— how it relates to our fears and hopes, our hates and loves, our mental and emotional conditioning, our basic needs. . . . As Secretary of the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, I can assure Mr. Smith that I have not heard of any students demanding authoritarianism as a means of dealing with propaganda, but I do know for a fact that the educational program has caused many thousands of teachers and students to have a surer faith in the present and ultimate values of the scientific method and democratic practices. (Miller, 1941, pp. 657–659)

Miller also defended the effectiveness of the Institute’s efforts to combat Fascism, racism, and class hatred. He shared many of Smith’s views about why propaganda is effective, but he remained convinced that propaganda could best be defeated by teaching students to understand how propaganda works—not by using democratic propaganda to oppose bad or undemocratic propaganda:

In the task of combating the unscientific theories of racism, which Hitler and Goebbels have utilized so effectively to create class hatreds, the Institute may be doing its best work. No student, once he has gone through the recommended educational program of the Institute, is likely to succumb to propaganda causing him to hate Jews as Jews and Negroes as Negroes. This approach does immunize students against propagandas inciting to hatred based on racial and religious differences. The process of scientific analysis in combination with a faith which holds fast to the values of democracy is the most powerful instrument for combating the wave of Ku Klux Klanism that is developing rapidly as a result of war tensions. (Miller, 1941, p. 664)

Who won this debate? Did Miller manage to persuade other elites that education was the best strategy for dealing with propaganda, or did Smith’s views win out? About the time that Miller’s article appeared, the Institute for Propaganda Analysis published a newsletter entitled “We Say Au Revoir.” It announced that it had been persuaded that for the good of the war effort, it should cease all activities. You will read much about these “democratic propaganda” campaigns such as the Why We Fight films in later chapters. And even when World War II ended and other wars—the Korean and the Cold—began, the Institute for Propaganda Analysis never reopened, and John Dewey’s calls for education were similarly marginalized. The task of defending democracy was handed over to Lasswell and his colleagues. The “science of democracy” ushered in an era of propaganda-for-good, or democratic propaganda.


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