Theories of Mass Communication

These theories will be mentioned, discussed and analysed  throughout the thought papers as well as the Importance/relevance to the class section of the journal entries.


  1. Effect Theories
  2. Hypodermic Needle theory (Bullet theory) (single shot theory): Really Old theory developed with television, it’s about the power of the media. That it memorizes us and makes us like zombies. Media becomes like a drug we are powerless to it and we just want to be entertained.
  3. Two-Step Flow Theory: (Opinion leaders) Information goes from the media to the opinion leaders (experts) to the general public
  4. Individual Differences Theory: All individuals engage with the media differently; the media targets individuals.
  5. Social Categories Theory: Target audience or intended audience. The media does marketing research and blocks off groups of people.
  6. Cultural Norms Theory: The media shape our culture and tell us how to behave. The media tells us what is good and bad.


  1. Genre Theory: Classifies messages and puts things into categories. This theory allows us to compare and contrast categories.
  2. Uses and Gratification Theory: How people use and are gratified by the media, (We use it for different things).
  3. Agenda-setting Theory: (gate keeper function of the media) the media tells us what is important. They tell us what to think about and what the most important story is today.
  4. Catharsis Theory: (opposite of social learning theory) If your child plays violent video games it will get it out of their system.
  5. Social Learning Theory: (Pro social behavior= sesame street) We can learn behavior from the media. Media causes us to do something. Pro social behavior as well as bad social behavior etc. Some people are more predisposed to violence than others.
  6. Desensitization Theory: We see so much violence that we have become desensitized and numb to the violence in the media.
  7. Imitation Theory: “Copy cat behavior”
  8. Cultivation Theory: Media shapes our culture and tells us how to behave. It tells us what’s good and what’s bad and tells us what’s normal; the media shapes our perceptions.
  9. Reinforcement Theory: The media reinforces our existing attitudes beliefs values and perceptions.
  10. Situational Interactionist Theory: The media can teach us about relationships and culture in our society. (The “how to behave” theme) (men vs women, generational, children vs adults, white vs black)
  11. Auteur Theory: Auteur means author but this includes a film director or even producer, anyone who creates media. Their life experiences show in the media they create.
  12. Mystification/Demystification Theory: The media have the capacity power and influence to take a nobody and make them famous or take someone famous and destroy them/ their reputation

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