Media Effects

Hypodermic Needle theory:

  • PASSIVE audiences are “injected” with ideologies, beliefs, messages, values
  • E.g. of a passive audience is children. Our behaviour is easily and directly shaped by these media messages.

2 step flow:

  • Assumes a more active audience who will discuss the media text with each other.
  • It still assumes that we can be passive.
  • Proposes that we are influenced by opinion leader e.g. parent, doctors, experts.
  • Opinion leaders are someone you trust to know a lot about a specific topic.
  • Media Product- decoder – opinion leader



  • Children are more vulnerable


  • The audience has no role in the creation of meaning-there is textual determinism.
  • Wherever they are in the world, the audience for a media text are all receiving exactly the same thing. That is the text is understood in the same way by anyone watching.

Cultivation Theory

  • Repeated exposure to a media message, will lead to desensitisation i.e. Audience becomes less sensitive.


  • Even children get used to shocking things they see eventually because they are growing up surrounded by the media.


  • Children are still shocked in what they say because they haven’t been as exposed to the media as adults.

Uses and gratification theory

  • Looks at why the audience uses the media
  • Assumes that audiences are active consumers- they are not passive
  • Audience have variety of need that they gratify through the media.Uses of the media:
  • We use the media as a diversion- take your mind off something else
  • personal identity- to relate you self with situations or characters, or aspire to someone, as a form of comfort
  • Personal Relationships- To be able to relate with people who also watch or read this particular thing (finding common ground)
  • Surveillance- Commonly found in newspapers, news (to found out what’s happening in the world.


  • Uses and gratification approach explores how and based on which motives recipients use the media as well as which gratifications are obtained thereat.


  • There isn’t anything on their association with background noise (which people do use it for sometimes)

Reception theory (Stuart Hall)

  • The audience do not passively accept a media text
  • Hall proposes three difference audience readings:
  • Dominant reading- Media text interoperated in the way intended by the producer.
  • Negotiated Reading- Audience accepts some of the media text but not all aspects
  • Oppositional Reading- Audience in conflict with the texts message.
  • Audience readings of a media text depend on:
  • Gender
  • Situated culture (background, upbringing, culture, lifestyle)
  • Age
  • Experience and knowledge


This is an example I have done by putting people in different categories stereotypically for the game GTA.


  • It allows audiences to accommodate with different readings and have different opinions


  • Not everyone in the same category in terms of e.g. age will have the same opinions, it depends on the actual person’s opinion and how they think.
  • There are only 3 categories; there could be people who don’t fit into any of the three categories.