- 新聞学評論 (ISSN:04886550)
- vol.37, pp.25-49,323-322, 1988
The comeback of the concept of the "powerful mass media" in The 1970's has not been based on an extensive criticism of the "limited effect model". The logic of the active audience implied in the latter effect model hat not been defeated or denied by this new wave. At the same time, the logic of audience passivity in the former concept cannot be retained fully if we examine why we should take "contingency conditions" into consideration. Views of powerfully effective mass media should be reconcilable with the active audience concept. In order to discuss this possibility of reconcilability, the author introduces the viewpoint of "information behavior". This viewpoint argues that, while we should investigate the characteristics of media information, and examine the process in which this is generated, we should also emphasize the audience's active information-processing. In this paper, the author especially examines from this standpoint the logic of audience motivation on the cognitive-psychological level, for the logic of motivation has occupied a key position in the "limited effect theories" and "use and gratification studies", but this position has not been based on any clear and general logic. Regarding the auditor as an active information-processor implies that he is constantly motivated to predict the future and the outcomes of alternatives in advance depending on his mental simulation ability. And in order to do that, in other words, to make this "expectancy" successfully, he actively selects and interprets information from his outer world. The second basic characteristic of human activities is that any activity, whether it is actual behavior or mental simulation, is more or less centrolled by three standards, i.e. causal appropriateness, needs suitability, and executability. Based on the arguments above, the hypothesis of selective exposure to information was examined. The auditor is not just one who seeks only cognitively consistent information, but also is an active information seeker who is motivated by firm belief, even if he is urged to expose himself to dissonant information. Our hypothesis is that this firm belief is formed by the three selection standards mentioned above, that is, selective exposure to and selective reliance on any information is performed in accordance with these standards. We have much supportive evidence already. We should also recognize that there exists "non-active" selectivity stemming from objective availability of media information or from non-intentional information-processing proclivities of the audience. Next, we have examined the logic of "use and gratification studies" from the same viewpoint, after proposing a new typology of information needs. Gratification behavior to satisfy any information need is controlled by expectancies generated by contents provided by the media. But ironically enough, this very active behavior to gratify promotes media or program dependence. This is a paradox in which audience active behayior leads to media or program dependency, and which is consistent with the contention of "powerful mass media" concept.