Research in Media Effects (Revised October 2009) Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 9 th Edition

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Research in Media Effects

(Revised October 2009)

Mass Media Research: An Introduction, 9th Edition

Roger D. Wimmer and Joseph R. Dominick

While much research is conducted in professional or industry settings, a great deal of mass media research is conducted at colleges and universities. There are several differences between research in the academic and the private sectors, including, but not limited to:

  • Academic research tends to be more theoretical in nature; private-sector research is generally more applied.

  • The data used in academic research are public, whereas much industry research is based on proprietary data.

  • Top management often determines private-sector research topics; academic researchers have more freedom in their choice of topics.

  • Projects in private-sector research usually cost more to conduct than do academic investigations.

The two research settings also have some common features:

  • Many research techniques and approaches used in the private sector emerged from academic research.

  • Industry and academic researchers use the same basic research methodologies and approaches.

  • The goal of research is often the same in both settings—to explain and predict audience and consumer behavior.

This chapter describes some of the more popular types of research carried out by academic investigators and shows how this work relates to private sector research.

Obviously, not every type of scholarly research used in colleges and universities can be covered in one chapter. What follows is not an exhaustive survey but rather an illustrative overview of the history, methods, and theoretical development of five research areas: antisocial and prosocial effects of specific media content, uses and gratifications, agenda setting by the media, cultivation of perceptions of social reality, and the social impact of the Internet. Readers who want a more comprehensive treatment of media effects research should consult Bryant and Thompson (2002).

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