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Posted: September 4th, 2023

Does media directly influence individuals?

After studying the assigned reading The Handbook of Communication Science, Second Edition, Chapter 15: Mass Media Effects and considering one of the five categories of media effect theories mentioned in the article (learning, socialization, selective exposure, selective presentation, and perceived effects—remember, these are the categories, not the names of the theories themselves), identify one of the theories listed in the reading and answer the following questions or prompts.

A) Does media directly influence individuals? Explain your answer

B) Which of the mass communication theories do you feel most accurately portrays your media experiences? Why? Be sure to provide an example that supports your opinion.

C) How involved should the government be in protecting us from media effects? Where do you draw the line between free speech and indecency? Is censorship ever warranted?

Support your responses with research from the Learning Resources. Use APA in-text citations where necessary and cite any outside sources. Create an APA reference list at the end of the document.

Submit your responses in the file submission area for this assignment. If you choose to “add a file” by attaching an MS Word or PDF document, please also copy and paste your response into the comments area.

A) One of the media effect theories mentioned in the reading is selective exposure. Selective exposure refers to the tendency of individuals to seek out and pay attention to media content that aligns with their pre-existing beliefs, attitudes, and values, and to avoid media content that contradicts them. According to this theory, people are not passive recipients of media messages, but active agents who select and interpret media content in a way that confirms their existing worldview.

Selective exposure suggests that media do not directly influence individuals, but rather interact with pre-existing attitudes and beliefs. Individuals selectively expose themselves to media content that supports their existing attitudes, reinforcing their beliefs and attitudes. However, research has shown that selective exposure can lead to polarization and ideological segregation, reducing the diversity of opinions and increasing the level of political polarization in society.

B) The media theory that most accurately portrays my media experiences is the socialization theory. Socialization theory suggests that media play a significant role in shaping individuals’ values, beliefs, and behavior by providing models of social roles and norms. This theory resonates with my experience because media, such as TV shows and movies, have helped shape my understanding of social norms and cultural expectations. For example, growing up watching TV shows like “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother,” I learned about the importance of friendship, relationships, and socializing.

C) The government should play a limited role in protecting individuals from media effects. While media can have harmful effects, such as promoting violence and stereotypes, censorship is not a viable solution. The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech and expression, and censorship can violate this fundamental right. However, the government can play a role in regulating media content by implementing policies and guidelines that promote ethical and responsible media practices. For example, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the content of broadcast media, such as TV and radio, to ensure that they comply with the community standards of decency.


Nabi, R. L., Oliver, M. B., & Akin, H. (2017). The Handbook of Communication Science, Second Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.

Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2013). The differential susceptibility to media effects model. Journal of Communication, 63(2), 221-243.

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