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The impact that mass communications have on individuals and society. While not all media effects are considered negative—convincing large numbers of people to vote or donate to a cause are potentially useful results—the term connotes those effects that garner criticism and concern for the well-being of the public. The results from exposure to mass media may be either intended or inadvertent. Intended effects are the result of efforts such as political or public information campaigns, whereas crime and violence are often unintended effects and cause the greatest concern.

Media effects can be manifested in a change of opinion, belief, or behavior or in the reinforcement, or intensifying, of an already held belief or pattern of behavior. The impact will vary depending on the consistency, frequency, and ...

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