Communication technology is an integral part of our lives. Their importance cannot be underestimated, no matter from which perspective they are viewed. After all, even the lives of ordinary ordinary people who are far from being engaged in activities related to communications are still largely dependent on information tools.
All people watch television, use smartphones, listen to the radio, use social networks, and spend their leisure time playing online games every day. And all of this is nothing but communication technology, used by people and having a direct impact on them.
Of course, psychology as a science could not stand aside and ignore such an aspect of life as the influence of information media on people’s consciousness. In this science, this topic is devoted to a whole direction, which is actually an independent discipline. Psychologists are actively studying not only how radio, television and other media affect the human consciousness, but also much more related to this topic.
What is mass communication?
Each person puts a different meaning into the term. Some people associate public communications exclusively with mass information, while others, on the contrary, immediately think of the Internet and various means for direct communication.
What do psychologists mean by this term? The subject of the psychology of mass communication is nothing other than the very process of producing information and exercising influence on the mass consciousness. Of course, the processes of shaping public opinion are also a subject of study. The science also deals with issues related to the ways of transmitting information, its assimilation, and the importance of certain technologies that ensure communication processes.
Accordingly, mass communications are special forms of information exchange, communication, or connection between people.
It is impossible to overestimate the importance of various communications. For example, how do people find out the news? Or communicate with their loved ones, relatives, acquaintances who are far away? To do this, they use the means of information exchange. Accordingly, these technologies are an integral and very important part of life for both individuals and society as a whole.
Various communications have become so entrenched in all socially significant spheres that it is simply impossible to imagine the world without them. Politics, economics, culture, and the entire social infrastructure are actually “held” by mass communications. Moreover, the media form people’s idea of anything.
Do media create a false picture of the events?
Unfortunately, yes. Especially in non-democratic and third-world countries.
It is not at all difficult to ascertain this, it is enough to use the Internet and look at publications in the international media. And the difference may lie not only in the presentation of information, but also in the omission of certain events (which do not favor by the local authorities). That is why more and more people prefer to read news on the Internet instead of television and radio.
Of course, information is sometimes distorted by many reputable media, even in developed countries such as the United States and Japan. Take, for example, the defeat of Pearl Harbor in World War II. The Americans have turned the actual professional inadequacy of their military into true heroism, tragedy, and martyrdom. The same manner of presentation has been adopted by filmmakers. The Japanese glorified their heroes by slightly exaggerating the enemy’s defensive capabilities and readiness for battle.
Every communicative medium in one way or another forms a view of an event or phenomenon, creating a public or personal opinion. Even if a person himself learns information from another who is at the scene, he still receives a biased presentation. For example, if you talk to people in Cyprus about the economic situation, some people will tell you how good they are, you can go to work in EU countries and other pluses. However, other people will say how unfavorable it is for them; they will argue about the need to go to the neighboring EU countries in order to earn money.
Accordingly, the source of information always influences the socio-psychological processes of perception and awareness. And this problem is also studied by psychologists.
How do media form their opinion?
Paradoxically, according to studies, mass communication is not mainly influenced by the rich and powerful people, but by other media. Social psychologists, however, do not see a special paradox in this phenomenon.
Since the term refers to everything that is in one way or another associated with the production, storage, transmission, dissemination and mass perception of various information, the development of communications is proportional to their availability. In other words, the emergence of the World Wide Web has had a revolutionary impact on the media and communications. This technology was a kind of breakthrough and brought radio, television and other media to a new evolutionary stage of development.
The same effect was produced earlier by the advent of television. And before that, a similar effect was brought about by the emergence of radio communication, the telegraph. The psychology of mass communication, considering the history of this concept, does not go further than the beginning of the last century. However, even the appearance of the postal service, not to mention the emergence of newspapers, once had the same revolutionary effect on the sphere of communication as the Internet did.
What is Psychology of mass communication?
Psychology, as a scientific discipline, became interested in the influence on the “minds of the masses” of various communicative means at the beginning of the last century. The concept itself was formed in the 20s of the last century in the United States. The term “communication” originally understood not only the work of journalists, that is, mass information, but also communication, communication and other such aspects of social relations.
In its early days, the social psychology of mass communication focused a great deal of attention on the issue of the media trying to outmaneuver competitive companies to give the public what they crave. In other words, when covering certain events, the media “speculate” on people’s expectations by distorting or withholding part of the information or by publishing only what is known to resonate with the public at large. The phenomenon is still alive today. Today it is called the “yellow press”.
The key characteristics inherent in communication tools is:
- Interests of participants in the communication sphere and their changes related to living conditions;
- The process of formation of specific cultural values and ways of thinking;
- Emotional and semantic identification with certain trends or factors (that is – identification);
- The effect of persuasive influence and the construction of a type of public perception, consciousness;
- The presence and spread of such phenomena as imitation and diffusion;
- The use of influence on the masses in any interests, for example, advertising of goods and services.
Of course, characterizing aspects is not the only thing that psychologists give to public communications. According to the majority of politicians in various countries, the key task of all media is to form public opinion.
Social psychologists do not argue with this; moreover, scientists expand the “official postulate” by adding to the thesis the possibilities:
- The construction of certain types of consciousness;
- Formation of fashion trends, buying trends, tastes and preferences in all spheres of life.
Of course, the peculiarities include direct technical nuances of the organization of information exchange. What does this mean? In simple words, we are talking about the way information is transmitted and the presence or absence of feedback. For example, publicly available information on the Internet can be in the form of an article or a film, and there can be no discussion in the comments underneath the material. Or, on the contrary, it may be a kind of “platform” for people to express their opinions and thoughts.
This same division is common to other technologies as well. For example, various television programs and talk shows use means of feedback, such as “call in the studio,” live chat, SMS voting, and others. Radio is particularly active in the use of feedback. Newspapers, almanacs, magazines, and other periodicals keep in touch with their readers through letters or by giving them the opportunity to comment on articles (if they have an Internet version, of course).
What are “communicator” and “recipient”?
Like any scientific discipline, mass communication psychology has its own terminology. The main concepts in this social and psychological discipline are “communicator” and “recipient”.
The communicator is nothing other than the source of any information. In other words, it is the active link, the initiator of the processes characteristic of mass communications. This can be either an organization, such as a particular media outlet, or an individual.
For example, if someone publishes something on his or her social network page that generates a public response and influences the minds of others, that person acts as a communicator.
This process is clearly demonstrated every day by celebrities on social networks, especially on Instagram. For example, if any popular singer or actress posts a picture of herself in pink checked pants, it is inevitably followed by a wave of imitation among some of her fans. That is, girls buy the same things and are photographed in them. The activity of the media, acting as a communicator, manifests itself in a similar way.
The recipient is the “receiving party”, that is, the people to whom the communicators’ activity is directed. However, the recipient can become a communicator as soon as he or she begins to disseminate the information received, to tell others about it.
In simple terms, the person who likes the post of someone else is a recipient. He plays a passive role as a consumer of the information offered. But if this person not only “likes” the post, but also reposts the material, thereby contributing to its dissemination, then he or she is already a communicator at the same time.
Role and Forms of Media influence
It is impossible to define this role unambiguously, since mass communication affects virtually all spheres of life for individuals and society as a whole. The role of mass communication in modern society depends directly on what form it takes.
Social psychology identifies the following main forms of communication:
- Mass action.
This division is due to the fact that any exchange or provision of information in one way or another interacts with one of these forms. For example, the role of communication processes affecting the educational sphere is that they contribute to the development of both the individual and society as a whole. That is, they enrich people with new knowledge, provide an opportunity to assimilate certain experiences and, accordingly, its dissemination.
The educational function of communications is somewhat broader than what we used to think of as education. For example, a person who watched a cooking show and learned a recipe for a new dish gained experience and knowledge. As soon as that person told his acquaintances about what he had learned from the television show, he spread the experience. Of course, something else can also be used as an example, such as documentaries or analytical talk shows. That is, education, as a form of mass communication, includes all the processes associated with the acquisition of new knowledge and human development.
Any communicative process, the initial purpose of which is to form a specific public opinion in relation to any phenomenon or issue, event, should be understood as propaganda. In other words, the political agitation unfolding before the election of officials is not all that is included in the concept of “propaganda”.
That is, scientists refer to this form of mass communication absolutely all processes carried out artificially and with the aim of influencing the perception of the surrounding reality by society. All kinds of manipulations of public consciousness, as well as the influence on the opinions, judgments and behavior of people, are also referred to this form of mass communication.
Religion, as a form of mass communication, includes those processes of information exchange that influence the worldview and spiritual values of society. Mass culture refers to society’s perception of the entire range of works of art available to humanity in all known genres and styles. Of course, the concept includes not only the art itself, but also the reaction it provokes.
Mass action is the “youngest” form of communication. Nominally, it includes all variations of public events held with the goal of introducing social or political change. But it also includes flash mobs, which appear in social networks both spontaneously and in an organized way. Such actions may not have any political or economic motives and are not held for the purpose of any changes.
For example, not so long ago people posted massively in the networks their photos from the past, from the 1980s, combined with modern photos. This action had no political or economic overtones, but nevertheless it fell under this form of mass communication. Accordingly, in the near future, scientists will revise and expand the notion of this form.