The limited effects theory states that the mass media do not have a powerful effect on individuals regardless of other circumstances. This theoretical approach contradicts the assertions of the hypodermic needle theory, also known as the magic bullet theory, according to which the media have an immediate and direct impact on any audience member. This entry explains limited effects theory and discusses its development. It then looks at how the characteristics of a message, the reception context, and audience characteristics determine the extent of a message’s effects.

Limited effects theory suggests that the media are among many factors that influence the reaction of people after the reception of a specific message. Indeed, the message does not reach the receiver directly, but a number of filters are ...

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