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The term resonance theory has been used in different ways by two well-known communication scholars. Both George Gerbner and Tony Schwartz have used the word resonance to refer to a process by which a mass media message is received, interpreted, or affected by a person's real-world experiences. However, Gerbner believed resonance happens by accident, whereas Schwartz believes it can be used by a communicator on purpose, in order to persuade.

Gerbner used the term resonance to describe one of two processes involved in his theory of media cultivation. That theory contends attitude change is a gradual and cumulative process as a person is exposed over time to many media messages. His research found that heavy television viewers began to believe their real world was like ...

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