Evolution of Media Effects Theory

University of Michigan researchers, W. Russell Neuman and Lauren Guggenheim trace the development of media effects theories from 1956-2005 through citation analysis of over 20 thousand articles from five top communication journals. Their findings are published in the latest Communication Theory (Volulme 21, Number 2, May 2011). This issue can be found in the e-journals section of the Penn Libraries website.


The Evolution of Media Effects Theory: A Six-Stage Model of Cumulative Research W. Russell Neuman and Lauren Guggenheim

ABSTRACT

The literature of media effects is frequently characterized as a three-stage progression initially embracing a theory of strong effects followed by a repudiation of earlier work and new model of minimal effects followed by yet another repudiation and a rediscovery of strong effects. We argue that although this dramatic and somewhat romantic simplification may be pedagogically useful in introductory courses, it may prove a significant impediment to further theoretical refinement and progress in advanced scholarship. We analyze the citation patterns of 20,736 scholarly articles in five communication journals with special attention to the 200 most frequently cited papers in an effort to provide an alternative six-stage model of, we argue, cumulative media effects theories for the period 1956–2005.

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