Review of Communication Research

MASS COMMUNICATION                                                                                                

Title & Authors

Thinking about the media: A review of theory and research on media perceptions, media effects perceptions, and their consequences

Douglas M. McLeod, David Wise and Mallory Perryman

(University of Wisconsin at Madison, USA)

Highlights

• This article examines theory and research examining citizens’ perceptions of media and perceptions of media effects.

• Four research areas are highlighted: media trust/credibility perceptions, Hostile Media Perceptions, Persuasive Press Inference, and Third-person Perceptions.

• The psychological processes that contribute to media perceptions include selective perception, assimilation and contrast, and confirmation and disconfirmation biases.

• Psychological processes involved in perceptions of media effects include selectivity, ego defensiveness/enhancement, negativity bias, optimistic bias, self-categorization, and stereotyping.

• Media trust and credibility are two interrelated media perceptions of crucial importance to media practitioners and media researchers.

• The Hostile Media Perception occurs when ideological predispositions lead individuals to perceive media bias against their own interests.

• The Persuasive Press Inference involves assumptions about media effects consistent with the perceived slant of media.

• Third-person Perceptions are when individuals see others as being more affected by harmful media content than they are themselves.

• This article examines theory and research on these perceptions, their antecedents and consequences, and offers suggestions for future research.

Abstract

This review explicates the past, present and future of theory and research concerning audience perceptions of the media as well as the effects that perceptions of media have on audiences. Before the sections that examine media perceptions and media effects perceptions, we first identify various psychological concepts and processes involved in generating media-related perceptions. In the first section, we analyze two types of media perceptions: media trust/credibility perceptions and bias perceptions, focusing on research on the Hostile Media Perception. In both cases, we address the potential consequences of these perceptions. In the second section, we assess theory and research on perceptions of media effects (often referred to as Presumed Influence) and their consequences (referred to as the Influence of Presumed Influence). As examples of Presumed Influence, we evaluate the literature on the Persuasive Press Inference and the Third-Person Perception. The bodies of research on media perceptions and media effects perceptions have been featured prominently in the top journals of the field of mass communication over the past 20 years. Here we bring them together in one synthetic theoretical review.

Content

INTRODUCTION

MEDIA PERCEPTION CONCEPTS AND PROCESSES

MEDIA PERCEPTIONS AND EFFECTS OF MEDIA PERCEPTIONS

Media Trust and Credibility Perceptions and Effects

Factors shaping perceptions of media trustworthiness and credibility

Consequences of media trust and credibility perceptions

Future directions for media trust and credibility research

Hostile Media Perceptions and Effects

Perception moderators

Effects of Hostile Media Perceptions

Future directions for HMP research

MEDIA EFFECTS PERCEPTION CONCEPTS AND PROCESSES

PERCEPTIONS OF MEDIA EFFECTS AND EFFECTS OF PERCEIVED MEDIA EFFECTS

Persuasive Press Inference and Effects

History and rationale

Perceptions of public opinion

Accuracy of perceptions

Alternative links between media and public opinion

Support for the presumed influence mechanism

Future directions for PPI research

Third-person Perceptions and Effects

Explanations for 3PP

The social distance corollary

Different approaches to measuring the 3PP

Message desirability

Perception moderators

Consequences of 3PP (3PE)

Future directions for 3PP research

CONCLUSIONS

REFERENCES

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Thinking about the media: A review of theory and research on media perceptions, media effects perceptions, and their consequences

McLeod, D. M., Wise, D., & Perryman, M.

Keywords: Media Perceptions; Media Effects Perceptions; Media Trust; Media Credibility; Media Bias; Hostile Media Perception; Presumed Influence; Influence of Presumed Influence; Persuasive Press Inference; Third-person Perception;

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How to cite

McLeod, D. M., Wise, D., & Perryman, M. (2017). Thinking about the media: A review of theory and research on media perceptions, media effects perceptions, and their consequences. Review of Communication Research, 5, 35-83. doi:10.12840/issn.2255-4165.2017.05.01.013

Keywords

Media Perceptions; Media Effects Perceptions; Media Trust; Media Credibility; Media Bias; Hostile Media Perception; Presumed Influence; Influence of Presumed Influence; Persuasive Press Inference; Third-person Perception.

Repositories

Permanent repositories where you can find this article:

Internet Archive (Community Texts) @ https://archive.org/details/texts

Academia.edu @
http://independent.academia.edu/ReviewofCommunicationResearch

Social Science Open Access Repository @ http://www.ssoar.info/en/home.html

About the Author

Douglas M. McLeod is the Evjue Centennial Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication. His research develops three lines of inquiry: 1) social conflicts and the mass media; 2) media framing effects, and 3) public opinion. He focuses on the role of the media in both domestic and international conflicts, news coverage of social protest and its effects on audiences. McLeod has published more than 100 journal articles, book chapters, and law reviews. He recently published News Framing and National Security: Covering Big Brother examines how news framing of domestic surveillance influences audience assessments of issues related to national security and civil liberties.

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David Wise (University of Wisconsin at Madison, School of Journalism and Mass Communication). His research examines news media practices and content and how they interact with audience predispositions to influence attitudes about the news media and public affairs.

 

Mallory Perryman (University of Wisconsin at Madison, School of Journalism and Mass Communication). Her research explores how the news media audience imagines media messages affect others. 

 

 

 

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