What is the perspective that makes the effect of content on behavior so important?
#3792 Created 01/03/2016 Updated 01/30/2018
There is a significant history of research into the relationships between humans and "the media", partly because of media's central role in almost every facet of life. Academic and commercial research, in particular, have looked at how media affect and/or effect the formation and transfer of opinions among media consumers, and how the content and delivery of media affects consumer attitudes and market behaviors.
Does media content affect behavior? Is meaning enhanced by context? Influenced by the opinions of other people? Modified by the medium? Changed in re-transmission? Focused through emotions? Amplified by connection? Betrayed by context?
Seeking insight, I ran for the sheltered cove of metaphor, where I was allowed to imagine that I was standing on a sandy beach at the edge of a sea, waves lapping gently over my poor, tired feet.
In the medium distance, I could see two lovely islands, standing apart in the Academic Sea. One Island was known to the locals as Content, and the other -- the island of wealth and treasure -- was called Behavior.
There were numerous visible connections between the two islands (as is apparently common in the land of metaphors), shimmering bands of interaction and understanding, paths of persuasion and anticipation, of analysis and reflection. About them swirled, like a flock of swift birds, scores of visions, techniques, influences, contexts, and speculations about the relationships between content and behavior.
I stared like a tourist, first only at the bare spectacle. "Cool. Islands," I thought.
The mental fog parted ever so slightly, and that became "Cool, the islands of Content and Behavior! Of course."
And, as the coffee started to take effect, it became. "Why only two islands?"
And, then, as I started to wake up, "What island am I standing on?"
So that is my first real question: what is the perspective that makes the effect of content on behavior worthy of study? What, in other words, is the real question about media?