This course investigates the way in which media influence our attitudes and behavior. There are six learning goals for this course:|
1) The student is able to describe the most important media effect theories in their own words. These entail for example the cultivation theory, the uses-and-gratifications theory, the social cognitive theory, the elaboration-likelihood model and agenda setting.
2) The student is able to describe specific media effect findings for areas like aggression, sex, marketing and education.
3) The student is able to describe the underlying processes of media effects using the correct psychological terms.
4) The student is able to describe media effects using the correct methodological terms (e.g. mediation effects, moderation effects, third variable problem). The students can argue which method (e.g. experiment, survey, longitudinal study) is best suited for a given media effect hypothesis.
5) The student is able to apply media effects theories to a new phenomenon.
6) The student is able to formulate a clear and testable hypothesis about a media effect.
The media play an important role in our daily lives. This happens in a direct manner, such as the role of the media in political developments and public opinions, but also in a more implicit manner, such as the use of stereotypical views on various groups in our society, or the content of news on the financial crisis. In the course, you will first get an overview of the theories that offer a background for media effects. We will not only discuss classic media theories like cultivation theory and agenda setting, but also psychological phenomena such as priming. After this, we will use these theories to explain and predict media effects. For example, how can cultivation theory explain how we think about certain groups (e.g. nurses, police officers) or how can the social cognitive theory explain that women try new things between the sheets after reading ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’. We will also pay a lot of attention to methodological issues. Given that it is not always easy to investigate media effects we will discuss advantages and disadvantages of different methods and the added value of using different methods. The course focusses a lot on concrete research examples, so students are expected to be familiar with reading and understanding scientific articles, including the results section.|
In this course many different media effects are discussed, most of which are mediated or moderated effects. Past years have shown that without proper knowledge of methodology and statistics this course is quite challenging. If you are from a different faculty and consider taking this course please contact the teacher first to check whether your methodological background is strong enough.
The grade for this course will be based on a midterm exam, a final exam (combined 70%) and the paper (30%). The midterm exam consists of approx. 5 open questions and the endterm exam consists of approx. 45 multiple-choice questions.
Additionally, there will be a small assignment at the beginning of the course that takes a different form every year (e.g. textbook check, formulating exam questions, finding media effects in the newspaper). This assignment will be explained at the beginning of the course.