chapter  13
24 Pages

Political Communication

Much research about media that appeared after World War I has been interpreted as arguing for the “hypodermic needle” model of the media (see Chapter 3). This theory is often presented as maintaining that the media are an all-powerful entity that injects messages into people, and these messages then drive how people think and behave. Many of these writings were influenced by the propaganda efforts of both the U.S. government and the other governments that were involved in World War I. However, it is important to note that while the hypodermic needle model seems far-fetched to people today, the model did reflect the intellectual climate at the time. In the earlier part of the twentieth century, social scientific theories of human behavior reflected rather pessimistic images of people (Coleman & Ross, 2010). For example, Freud’s writings promoted a view of people as being subject to the unconscious influences of the id. Likewise, behavioristic theories popular in the United States at that time argued that human behavior was strongly determined by the reward contingencies associated with stimuli external to the person. Finally, it is important to note that most of the writers who are credited with helping create the hypodermic needle model never explicitly argued for the model (Lubken, 2008).