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A hypothesized dysfunction of the mass media (see also media functions) in which mediated information overload could lead to less social action, superficial involvement, and political apathy. The term ‘narcotizing dysfunction’ was introduced by Lazarsfeld and Merton in 1948. Subsequent research did not support this hypothesis. The metaphor is often used polemically to allude to television as a drug dulling the critical faculties. See also diversion function.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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