Limited Effects Theory

Limited effects theory is an approach to mass media effects that claims the media have limited effects on their audiences and/or on society. This theoretical approach emerged in the late 1940s and early 1950s in large part because of a team of researchers at Columbia University (Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet) who conducted a series of studies in Erie County, Ohio, to learn how and why people decided to vote as they did. The Erie County Study employed a longitudinal research design interviewing the same 600 participants seven times during the 1940 presidential campaign.

The results of the study indicated limited effects with regard to the influence of media exposure leading to a change in vote intention from one candidate to the other. Rather, ...

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