The influence of mass media on individual opinion formation

The influence of mass media on individual opinion formation...

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Projection or hostile effects 1 Running head: PROJECTION AND HOSTILE MEDIA EFFECT The influence of mass media on individuals’ opinion formation: Projection and hostile media effect Nakwon Jung University of Texas at Austin
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Projection or hostile effects 2 How individuals form the impression of public opinion is the question that scholars have been asking for some time (Fields & Schuman, 1976). Recently, attention has been given to perceived media influence and to the effects of those perceptions such as individuals’ perceptions of public opinion (Gunther & Christen, 2002). Although it is unclear how individuals form their impressions of public opinion, previous research suggests that it is likely that our impression is generally biased toward our own position on the issues (Christen & Gunther, 2003). That is, individuals generally believe that others hold similar opinions to their own. This phenomenon is known as “the looking glass effect” (Fields & Schuman, 1976), “false consensus bias” (Ross, Green, & House, 1977), “assimilation bias” (Lord, Ross, & Lepper, 1979) or “projection” (Christen & Gunther, 2003). Christen and Gunther’s (2003) projection explains that individuals perceive public opinions to be akin to their own opinions. That is to say, when people see mass media coverage they would perceive it as similar to their opinion and also perceive it as public opinions. Alternatively, Vallone, Ross, and Lepper (1985) suggest that highly involved individuals may not believe that others would hold similar opinions. When individuals are highly involved in an issue, their preexisting attitudes and opinions may lead them to evaluate unbiased information, for instance in media coverage, as being unfairly biased and misleading. For example, two highly involved partisan readers send letters-to-the-editor criticizing that the news is biased in favor of the other side. According to Gunther (1998), people perceive that mass media has a persuasive influence on others but not on them, suggesting contrast effects. This phenomenon is referred to “hostile media effect” (Giner-Sorolla & Chaiken, 1994). Literature on hostile media effect suggests that when individuals perceive that information on media coverage is conflicting to their view, they believe that it would influence public opinions in the direction of the details of the news (Vallone et al., 1985).
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Projection or hostile effects 3 As mentioned above, there are contradictory findings on the effects of mass media on people: Previous research suggests that people either perceive mass media coverage as similar to their own opinions (e.g., projection process), or biased against their opinions (e.g., the hostile media effect). Recently, Gunther and Christen (2002) found that the hostile media effect and projection process both work in influencing individuals’ perceptions of public opinion to some extent. Accordingly, the main goal of this investigation is to examine whether or not the hostile
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This note was uploaded on 05/12/2010 for the course GENERAL 9898 taught by Professor Meme during the Spring '10 term at École Normale Supérieure.

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The influence of mass media on individual opinion formation...

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