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National Press Corps Director: Sam Zeidman - Institute for Domestic ...

National Press Corps Director: Sam Zeidman - Institute for Domestic ...

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C o n g r e s s 7 viewer’s head. The target of these ‘injections’ usually ends up being a passive audience because they tend to believe what they are told and not to question the source. 17 Below is a graphical representation of the process of the Hypodermic Needle Model. 18 As you can see, the media in this case, directly affects the isolated individual. Figure 1: Hypodermic Needle Model Two-Step Flow Model As time passed, the Hypodermic Needle Theory soon became outdated and was unable to describe the influence of the media on society. In 1944, The People’s Choice study was conducted by Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet. The focus of the study was to examine the decision-making process during the presidential election of the 1944. 19 After careful analysis, the result was the introduction of a new theory to describe the media’s influence on the mass audience. The Two-Step Flow Model suggested that the media moves in two stages to get their message across. The first stage is that the individuals who pay close attention to the media and its messages will receive the information and try to understand the focus of the message. The second stage is that these individuals, known as opinion leaders, will then take this information and pass it on 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid. 19 “Two-Step Flow Theory”, , Date Accessed: 10 December 2004

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C o n g r e s s 8 to the general public using their interpretation and ideas in conjunction with the actual content of the media. 20 The study showed that these opinion leaders were very effective and quite influential in being able to influence the public to change their attitudes and behaviors about any subject. These opinion leaders were considered to be trusted members of society, and therefore there was little reason to question potential motives. When compared with the previous model, instead of the media trying to influence the decisions and thought processes of the general public on an individual basis, this model uses and intermediary to achieve the same goal, thus making it easier and much more influential than before. 21 Figure 2: Two-Step Flow Model Multi-Step Flow Model The Two-Step Flow Model eventually gave way to a newer and more innovative theory about mass media communication and its influence on the general public. Advancing upon the research of French sociologist Gabriel Tarde who was the first to state that “most innovations have an S-shaped rate of adoption,” the Multi-Step Flow Model was introduced. 22 The focus of this model centered on the fact that there are certain conditions which increase or decrease the likelihood that new innovations, 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid. 22 “Diffusion of Innovation Theory”, http://www.tcw.utwente.nl/theorieenoverzicht/Theory%20clusters/Communication%20and%20Information%20Tec hnology/Diffusion_of_Innovations_Theory.doc/index.html>, Date Accessed: 11 December 2004

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