Psychology & Pedagogy

INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION AND MANIPULATION OF MASS CONSCIOUSNESS.

Prof. Kovalenko N.P. Grand PhD.,, Kovalenko A.A.PhD

The mass consciousness is a theme that has always evolved on the verge of the unknown or mythological events, and at the same time, phenomena that have a direct relationship to each person-representative of the masses of society.

Realizing that each person shows several levels of mental activity (conscious, subconscious and unconscious), it can be argued that in interpersonal communication and media resource he uses all of these levels.

In psychology are well known features of perception and information processing in human memory, the possibility of effectively manipulating the private and the public opinion. In this regard, some authors have long been dubbed as a means of mass media world dictatorship, and believe that the powers that impose the passive majority of the samples, the standards by which it judges about themselves and others. They (the powers) create a new, illusory reality, a false peace, which gives a person the opportunity to meet and oblivion of their primitive whims and desires.

However, what may appear to be threatening the myth of the omnipotence of the mass media and the unlimited possibilities in the “psycho programming” of mass consciousness, information and communication manipulation, it should be remembered that the mass media – is first of all means of communication. And people are not just mechanical processes the information received, it eliminates unnecessary individually sorts it in order of importance, he sets out its perception.

Mass audience is primarily individuals, rather than passive mass for consumption of information and any other products. Anyone is able to independently interpret the information coming to him, filtering and evaluating it according to his own world view, his social status, cultural development, religion, age, gender. Mass media attempts to impose drastic changes in stereotypes are often faced with an active psychological resistance, which is the result of a selective attitude of man, not only to the information itself, but also to its source. Great importance in the consumption and interpretation of consumed information is the fact that the perceiving it (the recipient) is never in a vacuum. He is proactive in relation to information: he agrees or objects, preparing a response to complement the information, analyzes the motives, even participates in the flow of thoughts of an interlocutor on the screen, and so on. “Any understanding of live speech, a living expression has actively reciprocal nature … any understanding is fraught with the answer in one form or another it necessarily gives rise: hearer becomes speaker” (Bakhtin M.M.).

However, we must remember that it has to do with a person who has a successful skill of communication, training, socialization. For a man, who has serious gaps in training, unsuccessful socialization, disharmonious, injured emotional world, any impact may have unpredictable reactions. If exposure (voice, informational) is based on the use of force of the simplest instinctive reactions, such a person will be more guided and controlled.

The modern model of instincts as a resource (Kovalenko N.P.) supports this idea. This model is consistent with the theory of motivation of A. Maslow and V.I. Garbuzov, but shows not only socially determined area of the motives, which are within the area of awareness, but also deep subconscious motives, drives, aspirations, which are not recognized by a man, but show their strength through behavior, speech, physiology.

Collective perception also brings to the effect of perception a radically new meaning. It is here where a large share of influence is subconscious and unconscious dynamic forces of human instincts. Seven levels instincts resources is a powerful potential that distinguishes man from animals that exist thanks to two instincts (survival and reproduction).

Coming into contact with the media, the man shows the activity of all of its resources (instinct of knowledge, leadership instinct, the instinct of freedom, etc.), especially satiating the needs of the knowledge instinct, since it consumes information from different sources and for every taste. It is of particular importance as it is the instinct of the knowledge of the need for information. In this regard, it is important to remember that the information must be of high quality, the mental health of the person depends on it. It’s no secret that the information could be harmful, traumatic (immoral, aggressive, etc.), and it can be the cause of multiple problems of a man, especially – his mental health problems.

However, by entering into communion with us, the mass media can also reveal our hidden mental problems, exposing them to us in all honesty. For example, information about military operations, burst through the TV screen in the house to the citizens, making them not only the first row of the audience, but almost complicit in this bloody tele-slaughter. In connection with the transience of modern warfare, reports rapidly change accents, but, according to press reports, among women are sometimes found serious passions (a kind of addiction) to what is happening on the screen, captured their imagination, and the habit of being a “first-line” spectator. This is perhaps an evidence of addictive behavior, psychological biases that lead to violations of emotional and volitional sphere. With frequent watching TV with elements of violence and sadism in various forms, people with ulterior mental health problems are at risk to develop these accentuations of their character.

If we consider human behavior through the lens of the instincts, the focus of all instinctual aspirations conscious and unconscious – is satisfaction. The media is taken into account this fact, that is why a modern man is so driven by TV, he can see there the objects of his needs. But if the viewer gets satisfaction from negative events, then his mind creates a roll towards violence, suffering and fear.

Over the past 70 years television has transformed the daily lives of people more than, perhaps, any other invention in the human history. Print media and radio have also largely changed under the influence of television, even though it has not replaced them. Their main source of fun people often consider television viewing, far behind which, follow socializing with friends, helping others and the use of leave. Television (and now also the Internet) has not only changed our pastime, it also revolutionized the way we think and our world view. It is necessary to note the positive impact of the media on our perception and cognition. Mass media is not only a “magic window” through which we see the world, but also the “door” through which ideas get into our consciousness.

Electronic media appeared later than printed, are less durable and less dependent on general literacy of a person or his accessibility to urban infrastructure. The last point is particularly important in remote corners of the world. A person can listen to a transistor radio, while not being able to use the power grid, not attending school or living away from the city. Because of the limited number of channels, radio and television are usually more strictly regulated by the government than the print media (for example, in the U.S. the channels frequency is distributed by the Federal Communications Commission [FCC]). The more authoritarian is the society, the easier it is to control the state radio and (especially) television in the moments, which it considers too dangerous. Although television networks, both private and public, usually broadcast within a particular country, their influence often extends far beyond its borders. In 1989 one of the main factors of the democratic revolutions in Eastern Europe was the opportunity to watch Western TV shows.

 

The media audience is large and anonymous, and often very heterogeneous (C. R. Wright, 1986). The information may be addressed to individual viewers, listeners, readers, or even groups of people, but the addressing accuracy is limited. Secondly, the sources of communication are certain institutions and organizations (S. R. Wright, 1986). Some, such as television networks, newspapers and wire services corporations or conglomerates that own these companies are among the largest and wealthiest private corporations. Third, and, perhaps, this is the most important point, the main economic function of the majority of the mass media – to attract and retain the best possible audience for the benefit of advertisers and politicians. In the U.S., for example, advertising in some way pays for a significant percentage of spending owners of newspapers and magazines, local TV and radio stations and commercial television networks such as CBS, NBS, ABC and Fox; even national and even subsidized by the state television networks, such as the Public Service Broadcasting (PBS), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), or Air Force, are not immuned from the pressures of businessmen and politicians. The same pattern we see in our country.

Despite the high-flown rhetoric about serving the country and the people, most of all mass media cares about income, that come from advertisers at a speed, directly proportional to the size and composition of viewership, listenership or readership, which, in its turn, causes the contents of the material. Thus, mass the media have a lot of pressure on themselves, causing them to be entertaining for the largest possible number of people, this principle is also valid for non-entertainment material like news. From all this it does not follow that the editors and authors of the programs are not concerned about meeting the needs of people. However, these requirements are considered inevitable within the limited frameworks of the economic realities of the mass media industry.

Despite its massive thrust, mass communication contains another communication. Any communication involves a certain kind of reaction from the audience. Although the person, who uses the media, especially the viewer, is often characterized as extremely passive, thoughtless absorbing the contents of the program, this picture is not accurate.

Impacts of the program depend not only on its content but also on the perceptions and experiences of the past viewer. Television film, which refers to rape, will produce one impression on a television viewer, who was herself a victim of rape, and quite different to the woman, who had not experienced such a drama. Pornographic movie with elements of violence may bring a person to such an extent that he would commit sexual assault, while the other person will feel disgust to the same picture and he will not make any anti-social activities, but will receive moral and emotional trauma. Especially a child, who will accept this picture as a filter to the rest of the experience of information consumption, especially concerning the intimate sphere. It is here where you need to take into account the responsibility of the media for quality of broadcast information and video. Therapists around the world say about the pathogenicity of many television programs and film production, as recorded by a large number of psycho-emotional abnormalities after watching them. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, sleep disorders, emotional breakdowns – it’s a small part of the list of issues that are obtained after the consumption of such products.

It should be also taken into account the atmosphere in which mass media products are consumed. You can watch TV or listen to the radio alone or in small groups. Reading a newspaper or magazine, as a rule, though not always, is an individual activity. On the consumption of mass media products greatly affects social situation of the viewer, listener or reader, and then, what is his reaction. One thing is to watch an exciting sports game alone, and quite another – to watch it together with a group of friends. Your feelings and the fear of a horror movie lived through may depend on whether the yells of delight the person who you are watching it together with, cries out in fear or not, laughs or does not show any reaction (Zillman, Weaver, Mundorf & Aust, 1986). Television can either promote harmony and concord within the family, or become a separation barrier – it depends on how you use it (Bryant, 1990; Lull, 1988).

The majority of studies of mass communication devoted to television, the main reason for this, is the amount of time we spend watching television. In the average American home television set is turned on for more than 7 hours per day (more than 8 hours – in homes with cable and pay television), and the average adult or a child watches television for 2 to 3 hours per day, from day to day activities a person spends more time only to working and sleeping (Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). By the age of 18 the child has spent more than two years of his lifetime watching television (Hearold, 1986). Every year, during the hours of most mass viewing he sees more than 9,000 scenes that show intimate relations or have hints of a sexual nature (National Federation of Decency report, in: Liebert & Sprafkin, 1988). The average American child who has reached 18 years, has managed to watch on TV 200000 scenes of violence (Huston et al., 1992). The Russian child – more than 270 thousand. However, in the United States are still made attempts to protect children and sick people from watching “stuff”, they are initiated by parental movements, concerned about their children’s mental health. Currently, the work of different channels allows each category of viewers to find their favorite information space, but first people have to watch a lot of varied waste that does not meet the requirements.

Over a lifetime, the amount of time spent by man in front of a TV screen is changing. In our country, it sharply increases between the 2nd and 4th years of life – from about 15 minutes to 2.5 hours per day, as it is replacement for parents for time of communication with the child. Up to about the age of 8, it remains unchanged, then increasing by 12 years to a maximum of approximately 4 hours per day. Then it starts to decrease, especially in the period of study in secondary school and college and the early years of adulthood, when people devote a lot of time to communicating, learning and child care. However, in later adult life, when the children have grown, a new upsurge is observed. In fact, the most avid viewers are older people (Condry, 1989). Other groups, who spend a lot of time in front of the TV screen – are women, low-income people (African-Americans in the USA, pensioners – in Russia). It is interesting, that many of the groups that devote a lot of time to watching television – are those who are least represented in TV programs, which characters are predominantly middle-class men, high geared and wealthy.

The part of the reality, created by the media, is our moral values. One of the important areas is a number of issues that are attributable to the vague notion of “family values”. You can remember the religious theme, many aspects of which seem to be the source of the greatest fears and taboos for the mass media. Some standards are clearly mitigated (eg, regarding the use of expletives, sexual allusions and the showing intimate scenes), while others, on the contrary, become more rigid (for example, regarding racism, sexism and violence against women). Many traditional values ​​such as family unity, patriotism, and abstinence from drugs, continue to accentuate in the same way as before, however, on the screens we see yet more destruction, murder, violence, etc.

The answers to many questions, regarding the media, can only give a serious scientific research, combining methods of psychology, sociology, political science, and sometimes medicine when it comes to the impact of media and film and television production on the mental health of the person. It is easy to draw attention to the problem of violence in the media, it is more difficult to accurately assess the consequences of the perception that violence. It is easy to complain about the lack of family values ​​in TV programs, it is more difficult to determine what is it, that preaches the value of television. Our relationship with the mass media is so complex, precisely because the media is satisfied only by some of the deepest psychological needs of any person. And as we saw in the theory of instincts, they (basic needs) have seven levels. For example, the instinct of harmony is a basic instinct that distinguishes a human from an animal (Kovalenko N.P., 2010).

From the point of view of the level of public interest and the amount of scientific research on the mass media, television is much more explored area than radio or print mass media. Many of psychological problems, discussed in this book, apply equally to all mass media, but most of them were studied mainly with respect to the television. We begin with the common approaches to the scientific study of the media, and then proceed the evaluation of specific theories, based on the psychology, the theory of mass communication and a number of other disciplines. Finally, we will focus on the construction of the reality that the media audience perceives.

The mass media is not only an object of the steadfast attention of the public, but also pose a serious concern, both for commerce and for science, which representatives are engaged in research of the mass media, using different approaches (see: Harris & Bryant, 1992; Lowery & DeFleur, 1983; McGuire, 1985 b; Poberts & Maccoby, 1985). Extensive research is being conducted by both the TV networks, publishing houses, advertising agencies and corporations themselves, and on their request. For example, evaluations of the television audience (see Module 2.1) or market research of people’s preferences with regard to soft drinks are made in order to increase the profits of this or that corporation. Another common type of scientific research is research that is undertaken by independent scientists, seeking to understand the impact of the media, and explore the role that they play in society and in the lives of individuals (D. K. Davis & Baron, 1981; Lazarsfeld, 1941). For example, a study of the impact of violence, shown in the media, or the analysis of the allegedly sexist advertising, as a rule, are made without any commercial motivation. This book will focus first of all on such non-profit research. We start with the analysis of three common ways to estimate mass media and then will move on to the individual theories.

EVALUATION OF THE CONTENT

One of the easiest ways of studying media – to study the content of the materials that they transmit. The resulting data is often an important prerequisite for the duration of studies and the impacts of the media. For example, are conducted studies in which it is calculated how much of the television show characters belong to certain racial, ethnic or gender groups. If we are going to prove, for example, that television advertising or any programs are sexist in nature, then it is necessary to define exactly what we mean by the word “sexist” and then conduct a study of these programs and see if they fit your criteria. Studies of the effect of sex or violence include content analysis, which allows obtaining data on the prevalence of these issues and changing trends over time.

One of the research approaches to the study of the content is the use of discourse analysis, applied in linguistics, anthropology, and textual study (Van Dijk, 1985a, 1985 b). This thorough analysis of messages transmitted through the media, is often neglected, because studies of mass communication are by tradition more closely related to social rather than cognitive psychology. Made in this book focus on the cognitive aspects can help to restore balance.

THESE ARE SO IMPORTANT RATINGS

The most important indicators used by the United States to estimate the size of the audience that watches network television programs, are ratings of A. Nielsen Media Research and the firm Arbitron. Due to these ratings the weight is gained, or conversely, disappear from our sight programs, people and even the mass social movements. For many years, A. Nielsen selects approximately 1,700 U.S. families, to connect to their TV-sets so-called “audimeters of instantaneous actions (Storage Instantaneous Audimeter)”. Audimeter shows when the TV is on and what channel it is set on, transmitting this information to a computer firm A. S. Nielsen, however, doesn’t allow to estimate exactly who is watching TV and how much a person is obsessed with it. In addition, another sample of families, which often changes, keeps a weekly of the viewed programs.

ASSESSMENT OF DURATION OF IMPACT

The second common method of media studies is assessment of duration of impact. The overview of impact assessment methods can be found in Webster and Vakshlaga (Webster & Wakshlag, 1985). Who reads the papers and how many? Who is watching TV, how much time and when? This type of research allows you to obtain demographic data on the different groups of people, who watch certain programs. However, such information does not give a complete picture of the true nature of the impact. If a radio or TV-set is turned on, it does not mean that someone listens to or watches it. Nor can we conclude that if people are not consciously directed his attention to a source of information, it does not act on them. Often, people, listening to the radio or watching television, are doing something else at the same time. Sometimes they are for the time being out of the room, especially during display advertising. In order to understand the cognitive processes, associated with the perception of the media, it is important to conduct a thorough analysis of the volume and nature of the attention, directed at the mass media, later we will return to this issue.

 

ASSESMENT OF THE CONSEQUENCES

Probably the most common approach to the study of the mass media is to study the consequences of mass communication. Concern the general public against the mass media is associated mainly with these consequences, the nature of which can have many forms.

The most simplified form of the impact model is the theory of uniform effects. According to this theory, people in today’s society perceive the mass media reports in the same way, and the last cause intense and very similar reactions. That is, the mass media reports are a kind of magic bullet, penetrating the consciousness of the population. A similar model was used after World War I to describe the effects of propaganda. Lasswell (Lasswell, 1927, 1935) compared the mass media with a “hypodermic needle” (bearing in mind that viewers are imposed a message of questionable character that awakens all the worst in them). The hypothesis that suppliers of mass media control our evil thoughts and can make any man in the passive and helpless society to act in a similar way, is no longer taken seriously by researchers of mass communication, but still are covertly supported by some rabid critics of the mass media, accusing the mass media in most social evils (Key, 1974, 1976, 1981, 1989; Mankiewicz & Swerdlow, 1978; Winn, 1977, 1987).

We continue to believe that the mass media can have a significant impact on society, but that this effect is manifested only in certain circumstances and takes less dramatic form than the one that is discussed by the most vociferous critics. People perceive the same message in different ways and react to it in various ways. For example, after watching a TV program with elements of violence viewers will not tumble down the street and will not cause injury to others, but such a program can strengthen violent tendencies already present in a minority of viewers, and slightly dull the sensitivity of many others. Some positive and negative aspects of television can affect more deviant than healthy children (Sprafkin, Gadow & Abelman, 1992). Much of the effort in the research of this type is directed to the identification of other interacting variables that enhance or reduce such effects. These variables can have a demographic nature, allowing individuals to carry certain categories, or they may be related to the content of the message or the environment in which it is taken. The fact that these effects are not uniform, did not reduce their significance. For example, even if a TV program has some impact only 0.1% of the audience, but its audience of 40 million people, this influence will spread to 4,000 spectators!

Determining the effects of the media, we must also remain aware of the total (cumulative) effect. Most of the messages or images that appear in the media, we see or hear dozens if not hundreds or thousands of times. Although such a lasting impact is difficult to simulate in the laboratory and control in field experiments, there are methods to investigate it. An excellent review of publications devoted to assessing the reactions of the media can be found in A. Lang (A. Lang, 1994a).

The behavioral consequences. There are four main classes of measurable effects. Probably the behavioral consequences – is the type of media exposure effects, which most people remember first and foremost. In this case, a person commits certain acts, such as showing violence, buy some merchandise, vote in elections, or laughing at comedy episode, after he sees someone behaves in a similar way. These effects emphasize the proponents of social learning theory (Bandura, 1977; Tan, 1986), which we will discuss later. Although conceptually behavior may be the most visible type of impact, it is often very difficult to measure, even more difficult to show with certainty that it is caused by the impact of the media. For example, we know that some people look a certain ad, and check whether he bought the advertised product, but it is very difficult to demonstrate that he bought this product because it saw the advertisement and not for some other extraneous reasons. Or, for example, when a teenager happy in school shooting, he saw shortly before a similar scene in the film, is very difficult, both from a legal and from a scientific point of view, to establish a causal link between viewing the film and the subsequent tragic events.

Installation consequences. The second class of the impacts associated with the installation media people. For example, looking at ads, you can get a higher opinion about a product or political candidate; whether this will lead to the installation of the actual purchase or specific action during the vote, is another question. For example, the Americans and the Japanese experience watching the film Roger and me (“Roger and Me”), showed a more negative attitude toward the company “General Motors” and American business as a whole (Baterman, Sakano & Fujita, 1992), but it is not noticeable impact a way to buy their cars.

While you install include intelligent component or components of trust (for example, the rationale for why you prefer to program a candidate of another program), a significant part of the psychological dynamics in plants is emotional in nature (for example, a large sympathy for one candidate over the other.) Sometimes, intellectual and emotional components may come into conflict with each other, as happened in 1984, when almost all American voters do not agree with the position of President Ronald Reagan on many important issues, but was re-elected him an absolute majority of votes, as sympathetic and trusted him.

Positive feelings about goods and candidates can inspire through a process of classical conditioning, which establishes communication between the conditioned stimulus (item) and the unconditioned stimulus, automatically causes some positive reaction. For example, a beautiful fashion model advertises a product, it may cause a person to positive attitudes, the main role of which will play an emotional component. This product has become associated with sexual model, automatically prompting a positive response. The very processes that mediate classical conditioning are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 4.

The media can instill in us a whole set of attitudes towards some object. For example, seeing an exciting artistic or documentary film about AIDS, people can take closer to the heart of the problem and begin to sympathize more victims of the disease. Intended for adult audiences horror movies in which women experience sexual arousal when they are attacked or raped, could bring the audience to the idea that women are the hidden pleasure of becoming victims of sexual violence (Donnerstein, Linz & Penrod, 1987). Installation easier to estimate than actions, and sometimes they become critical, as the subsequent impact on behavior and how we will further process the information.

The impact is not limited to plants forming our opinion on a particular subject. Under the influence of a set of plants can develop a way of thinking that will determine our whole outlook. Such installations leave their mark on our perception of the world and how we interpret it. Interaction knowledge obtained from the media, with our experiences can lead to what is called cultivation (cultivation) (Gerber, Gross, Morgan & Signorielli, 1986, 1994; Signorielli & Morgan, 1990). For example, if we take for granted in the police series created image of a big city, tayaschego many dangers, this idea not only has an impact on our attitudes to the cities, but also may indirectly affect our cognitive and behavioral patterns. This impact is difficult to assess experimentally, although developed methods to establish the existence of such effects.

Cognitive consequences. The third class of effects – cognitive effects (ie, those effects that alter our knowledge and thinking). The most striking example of this is the assimilation of new information from the media (eg, data on chimpanzees drawn from an article in National Geographic). There are other, more subtle, cognitive effects. For example, the media “to impose the agenda,” a very simple way: giving preference to one over the other events in the news coverage. Giving preliminary presidential election a lot more attention than the complex, but distracted by issues like third world debt or move from their own agricultural production to its imports, the media would have us that small political details of all these primaries are important, but other issues are less important .

Different media can contribute to different types of cognitive activities. In a remarkable series of studies that compared the cognitive effects of radio and television, associated with the ability to tell stories, the children come up with more original ending to an unfinished stories in those cases when they have heard them on the radio, than when they heard and saw them on TV . These results are to some extent serve as a confirmation of the intuitive assumption that radio contributes to the development of the imagination more than the TV.