In my previous posts I have talked about how much information there is surrounding us every day. It is not physically possible to go through all the information that is delivered to us, so the individuals need to start filtering the messages that they are getting from various samples. This „filtering” needs to happen efficiently and resemble the individuals’ opinions and first choices.
As explained in Stanley J. Baran’s and Dennis K. Davis’s book „Mass communication theory”, there are three different ways how information can be altered, observed or selected in mass communication theory – exposure, retention and perception. Selective exposure is the idea that people like to expose themselves to ideas that are similar to their own existing ideas. Selective retention tells us that people will remember the messages that are meaningful to them better than the ones that are not. And selective perception shows that people will alter the meanings so that they become consistent to their existing ideas.
Some of these ideas seem to be obvious to everyone, as that is what we do all the time. When opening a newspaper, we will first go over the whole paper to see the topics, and later pick the ones that are most interesting to read first. People have the tendency to do the most pleasurable things before the least pleasurable. That is the whole art of procrastination that students master every day.
Big mass media concern is the question “how to approach people and deliver to them knowing that according to the attitude change theory people will only relate to the topics they are passionate about?” We are exposed to more and more information, but in order to gain anything from it, we have to choose to absorb the messages. Many people would fail to expand their interests and learn from information that doesn’t seem appealing. And media would fail in the same area when not delivering the news in a way that could attract the readers. This all would cause a downward spiral decreasing the interests of individuals – as they learn less, they become less interested in things, so they will learn less from that. I could continue demonstrating the spiral for a while.
What is clear is that people seek information that they are passionate about in order to be able to expand on it and forward it to others – more confident I am about a topic, bigger chance there is that I will become an opinion leader about this particular topic. This all comes back to the “two step flow theory” that also proves that mass media can be inefficient in order to affect the society.