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hypodermic model


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1. Not so much a model or a theory as a metaphor for a popular assumption that communication involves the transfer of ideas, thoughts, feelings, facts, information, knowledge, or meanings from sender to receiver (a one-way linear process)—a notion long ago discredited in academic contexts (see alsotransmission models). It is reflected in everyday speech in the conduit metaphor.

2. A feature of the behaviourist ‘stimulus-response’ rhetoric reflected in academic discourse up until the early 1950s, in which the mass media were argued to have direct effects on their audiences, particularly behavioural effects. This concept was gradually abandoned in academic theory and research in favour of a conception of the audience as highly active and selective rather than a passive and defenceless sitting target (see alsoactive audience theory; behaviourism; effects tradition). Ironically, the notion persists in the rhetoric frequently employed by the popular press, particularly in relation to violent crimes attributed to media influence (see alsoviolence debate).

Subjects: Media Studies.


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