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Public Opinion, Media Effects on

Erich Lamp and Hans Mathias Kepplinger

Subject Communication Reception and Effects » Public Opinion

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Because there are various concepts of →  public opinion there are no general statements about the effects of mass media on it. Instead, the effects of mass media have to be related to specific concepts. Moreover, different study designs and methods have to be taken into consideration. According to the quantitative concept , public opinion is regarded as the distribution of individual opinions within a population and measured by representative opinion polls (→  Survey ). According to this approach, the intensity and tone of media coverage directly influence public opinion. Most studies are based on a linear-effect model (→  Linear and Nonlinear Models of Causal Analysis ): the more often the media cover an issue, the more people believe it to be important (→  Agenda-Setting Effects ); and the more often the media present certain opinions, the more people adopt these opinions. The intensity and tone of media coverage are measured by quantitative content analysis (→  Content Analysis, Quantitative ). In some studies, they are not measured but estimated; possible effects are concluded from media use ( Robinson 1976 ). As well as the intensity and tone of media coverage, the framing of news stories can influence public opinion. Framing refers to the media's reporting of issues or events structured along certain perspectives, and to the audience's processing of that content according ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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