PSYCHOLOGY OF AGENDA-SETTING EFFECTS. MAPPING THE PATHS OF INFORMATION PROCESSING.
Maxwell McCombs & Natalie J. Stroud
University of Texas at Austin, TX, USA
• New research complements the concept of Need for Orientation as a psychological explanation for agenda-setting effects.
• Dual paths of psychological responses to media messages that result in agenda-setting effects are explicated in recent research.
• Need for Orientation and dual psychological paths are extended to attribute agenda setting.
• Need for Orientation, selective exposure, and motivated reasoning are merged in expanded theoretical perspective on agenda setting.
The concept of Need for Orientation introduced in the early years of agenda-setting research provided a psychological explanation for why agenda-setting effects occur in terms of what individuals bring to the media experience that determines the strength of these effects. Until recently, there had been no significant additions to our knowledge about the psychology of agenda-setting effects. However, the concept of Need for Orientation is only one part of the answer to the question about why agenda setting occurs. Recent research outlines a second way to answer the why question by describing the psychological process through which these effects occur. In this review, we integrate four contemporary studies that explicate dual psychological paths that lead to agenda-setting effects at the first and second levels. We then examine how information preferences and selective exposure can be profitably included in the agenda-setting framework. Complementing these new models of information processing and varying attention to media content and presentation cues, an expanded concept of psychological relevance, motivated reasoning goals (accuracy versus directional goals), and issue publics are discussed.
A PRELIMINAR Y THEORETICAL MAP
Roles of accessibility and perceived importance in media effects
Historical origins of salience in agenda setting
MAPPING THE DUALITY OF AGENDA SETTING
Experiment one: presentation effects
Experiment two: content effects
Figure 1. Process model for dual agenda setting
Figure 2. Relevance: A theoretical gestalt defined by recent research
EXPLICATING THE CONCEPT OF RELEVANCE
AGENDA CUEING AND AGENDA REASONING
THE AUDIENCE EXPERIENCE
INDIVIDUAL CHOICES OF MEDIA CONTENT
Issue-based information selection and agenda setting
Partisan-based information selection and agenda setting
NEED FOR ORIENTATION & ATTRIBUTE AGENDA SETTING
Figure 3. Need for Orientation: The “simultaneous measurement” model (Camaj, 2012)
Figure 4. A conceptual merger of Kim and Camaj
Figure 5. A comparison of Kim and Camaj’s research findings
Figure 6. A summary of “dual path” agenda-setting research
COPYRIGHTS AND REPOSITORIES
Maxwell McCombs & Natalie J. Stroud
Keywords: Agenda Setting, Attribute Agenda Setting, Public Opinion, Journalism, Motivated Reasoning, Issue Publics, Psychological Relevance, Need for Orientation, Selective Exposure
McCombs, M., & Stroud, N. J. (2014). Psychology of Agenda-Setting Effects. Mapping the Paths of Information Processing. Review of Communication Research, 2(1), 68-93. doi: 10.12840/issn.2255-4165.2014.02.01.003
agenda setting, attribute agenda setting, public opinion, journalism, motivated reasoning, issue publics, psychological relevance, need for orientation, selective exposure
Repositories where you can find this article:
Internet Archive (Community Texts) @ https://archive.org/details/texts
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Maxwell McCombs's web page: http://journalism.utexas.edu/faculty/max-mccombs
Natalie J. Stroud's web page: http://commstudies.utexas.edu/faculty/rhetoric-and-language/natalie-jomini-stroud