Media Effects

Paired spirals of influence page 1 10/27/05

Paired spirals of influence: A system dynamics model for understanding media use and effects

Michael D. Slater School of Communication The Ohio State University

Running head: Paired spirals of Influence

The author thanks Lindsay Hoffman, The Ohio State University, for her insights and literature search efforts, and Kim Henry, University of Colorado for comments and suggestions regarding the manuscript.

Paired spirals of influence page 2 Abstract The attitudinal or behavioral outcomes of media use studied by media effects researchers also can typically be expected to influence selection of and attention to media content. The consequence of this process of mutual influence over time can be conceptualized as a positive feedback loop, or mutually-reinforcing spirals. Implications of such a perspective include increased attention to more complex, longitudinal modeling of media selection and effects processes; impact of such spirals of influence in youth and adolescent development; analysis of social and psychological factors that control, dampen, or eventually extinguish the influence of such spirals. The influence of relatively subcultures or national cultures that are relatively open or closed with respect to communicative influences are also explored, with implications for social change, social conflict, or homeostasis.

Paired spirals of influence page 3 Paired spirals of influence: A system dynamics model for understanding media use and effects

Researchers in communication, psychology, sociology and allied social science disciplines have established strong empirical support for effects of media exposure on aggression (Anderson & Bushman, 2002), fears about the social world (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, Signorielli & Shanahan, 2002), political behavior (Graber, 2002) and a wide variety of other outcomes (see Bryant & Zillman, 2002 for a review). Similarly, there is a rich body of literature documenting the...