Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Cognitive Science

DESCRIPTION This study-unit examines the psychological theories, principles, and research relevant to mass communication and the mass media. These theoretical frameworks are applied to a range of media and media issues including violence in the media, advertising, news and politics, educational and public information programming, and entertainment.

Study-Unit Aims:

The aim of this study-unit is to assist participants to develop an understanding of the short- and long-term psychological effects of mass media and information technologies in the socialization of children and adults, in persuasive and advertising campaigns, and in shaping social perceptions, agendas, attitudes, knowledge and behaviours in such areas as public health, politics, and consumer behaviour.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Describe different types of psychological, attitudinal, and behavioural effects produced by exposure to mass communication;
- Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of Theories of Mass Communication; cognitive and emotional components of the media experience;
- Demonstrate knowledge of the limitations of human information processing, attentional processes, memory, and cognitive structures, and how these impact consumption of mass communication;
- Describe the possible roles of the mass media in shaping social perceptions, agendas, attitudes, knowledge and behaviours.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Compare the effects of types of mass communication on different populations, including children and adults;
- Analyse how mass media communications shape social perceptions, agendas, attitudes, knowledge and behaviours.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

Harris, R.J. & Sanborn F.W. (2014). A Cognitive Psychology of Mass Communication, (6th ed.) New York, NJ: Routledge.

Supplementary Readings:

- Alia-Klein, N., Wang, G. J., Preston-Campbell, R. N., Moeller, S. J., Parvaz, M. A., Zhu, W., ... & Fowler, J. S. (2014). Reactions to media violence: it’s in the brain of the beholder. PloS one, 9(9), e107260.
- Eysenck, M.W. & Keane, M.T. (2015). Cognitive psychology: A student's handbook, (7th ed.) Hove, UK: Psychology Press.
- Greitemeyer, T. (2011). Effects of prosocial media on social behavior: When and why does media exposure affect helping and aggression? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20, 251–255.
- Huesmann, L. R. (2010). Nailing the coffin shut on doubts that violent video games stimulate aggression: Comment on Anderson et al. (2010). Psychological Bulletin, 136, 179–181.
- Lull, R. B., & Bushman, B. J. (2015). Do sex and violence sell? A meta-analytic review of the effects of sexual and violent media and ad content on memory, attitudes, and buying intentions. Psychological bulletin, 141(5), 1022.
- Perloff, R. M. (2014). The dynamics of persuasion: Communication and attitudes in the 21st century. (5th ed.) New York, NJ: Routledge.
- Perse, E. M. , Lambe, J. (2013). Media effects and society. (2nd ed.) New York: Taylor & Francis.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Luke Buhagiar

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.