While there are numerous types of media effects, five of the most common types are: behavioral, cognitive, attitudinal, emotional, and psychological. Each of these broad categories of effects contains many different factors that influence people. As stated in chapters thirteen and fourteen of Media Literacy, there are many factors that interact to create media effects. The combination of these factors can change and influence people’s set points.
One example of a media effect would be behaving aggressively after viewing a violent movie. First, this is a behavioral effect because it causes a person to act in a certain way. Second, in order for a violent movie to make someone act aggressively, many factors influencing media effects would need to act in combination with one another. Perhaps a person with less developmental maturities, limited knowledge structures, few social interactions and a weak locus of control would be more likely to become aggressive because of a violent movie. This would unlikely be the case if a person had vast knowledge structures, developed cognitive abilities, an active life style and a strong personal locus of control. The different combinations of factors contribute to how people react to media effects.
Like behavioral effects, attitudinal effects are also prevalent when looking at media effects. Just like aggressive behavior can be related to violent movies, the creation of new opinions can be related to the viewing of certain television programs. However, for this to occur, a combination of factors must interact to influence a media viewer. With each example, it becomes more and more clear that the effects of media are not the same for everyone. It is the combination of different factors that influence effects that really makes a difference in how people perceive media messages.
For me personally, I was able to discover some of the factors that influence my set points with exposure to the media. The idea that the state in which a person is in when viewing media affects how he/she perceives messages might seem like common sense to some people; however, this simple idea is extremely important. If a person relates a certain emotional state to a type of media exposure, they might be more influenced by the media effect. For example, if I was watching a sad movie after I had a fight with my best friend, I might be more inclined to cry during scenes in the movie. In addition to states, the degree of identification between a character and a viewer can impact media effects. The more a person relates to a character, the stronger the media effect will likely be.
With this increased knowledge about media effects and factors, I am better able to prepare myself for future media exposures. First, by becoming more aware of media effects, I should be able to control my set points. Second, after learning about the factors that influence media effects, I can try to be more alert and tentative to the type of effects so that I can control how they affect me.