Mass media essentially encompasses any means of communication that reaches a large number of people. Now more than ever a very large section of the world population is connected and information is disseminated faster than ever. The growth of the mobile phone industry and internet connectivity has had a significant impact on information dissemination. Invariable this has increased the ability of mass media to shape human behaviour. The internet is the biggest source of information currently in the world especially among teenagers. Social media has an even bigger impact on the lives of teenagers, shaping how they view themselves and others and how they respond to events.
The concept of behaviourism is particularly prevalent in mass media. This concept holds that human action is essentially subject to external stimuli. Mass media has been used to condition people to behave and act in certain ways through propaganda. The Nazi regime used propaganda to shape peoples perceptions of Jews and make the Holocaust more tolerable to the German population. The party established a ministry dedicated to propaganda. The presentation of migrants in the media, especially right-wing media, has also been accused of being responsible for the anti-immigrant sentiments. During the migrant crisis in Europe large sections of the populations remained immune to the plight of migrants because of negative perceptions created by the broadcast media and social media personalities such as Kate Hopkins. Consistent blame placed on migrants for social and economic issues in the western world strongly influenced this behaviour.
The porn Industry meanwhile is shaping peoples expectations of sexual intercourse reinforcing traits such as remaining clean shaven and the objectification of women even among young children. The ban on advertisement of cigarettes acknowledges the power of mass media to strongly influence behaviour in the general population. The types of movies and novels people are exposed to influence their behaviour to a good degree. This can be seen in how movies make things like same sex marriage more acceptable. The concept of the bubble that people live in also acknowledges how media influences behaviour. Watching and reading right-wing or left-wing media has been shown to establish and reinforce behaviour consistent with these world views. This has happened to the extent that the truth and expert opinion have lost their place in society.
Social medial has created a click bait reaction tendency to events. People reflexively react to controversial news without really analysing it. Such behaviour has been influenced by the rapid dissemination of news and the behavioural conditioning of a lot of social media users. Some have become like robots, automatically reacting with outrage or strongly defending actions without real insight into the matter under debate. This behaviour has made the dissemination of fake news far easier to disseminate.
Mass media professionals use psychology to try and influence people. Advertisers try to understand the behaviour and mental states of people to try and influence them to buy products. Companies like Google collect information of users and help advertisers to gain insights into the psychological states of individual potential buyers. They seek to apply the concept of cognitive psychology and subtly influence buyers.
Weiner, I. B. (2003). Handbook of Psychology, History of Psychology. John Wiley & Sons.
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