MAGIC BULLET OR HYPODERMIC NEEDLE THEORY OF COMMUNICATION

in Communication Theory

History :

In mid 1930’s media scholars found the first theory on Media Effects and the Media Behaviors. During second world wars media plays a vital role in both United States and Germany to made influence in the people’s mind. The Germany Hitler’s Nazi used film industry for Propaganda and they produced lots of movies about their achievements which made a great impact in Germans mind. Later the United States also used its own Hollywood and produced films like “Its Happened one night”, “It’s a wonderful life” and Mr. Smith goes to Washington” to portrait Germany as Evil force which also made impact in Americans Mind. Here media audience accepts the messages directly without any rejection.

Theory :

The media (magic gun) fired the message directly into audience head without their own knowledge. The message cause the instant reaction from the audience mind without any hesitation is called “Magic Bullet Theory”. The media (needle) injects the message into audience mind and it cause changes in audience behavior and psyche towards the message. Audience are passive and they can’t resist the media message is called “Hypodermic Needle Theory”.

Both theories are deals with impact of media messages in audience mind and how audience react towards the message without any hesitation.

Example :

In 1930, Newly formed mercury theater and Orson Wells join together and created a fake news bulletin about aliens invasion in american city called Grover’s Mill, New jersey. They broadcast this news bulletin in between the radio program called “The War of the Worlds”. The “Panic Broadcast” was reached merely 12 million American people and one million were seriously believed. Due to this broadcast the whole country was in chaos.

Study :

The magic bullet theory is based on assumption of human nature and it was not based on any empirical findings from research. Few media scholars do not accepting this model because it’s based on assumption rather than any scientific evidence. In 1938, Lazarsfeld and Herta Herzog testified the hypodermic needle theory in a radio broadcast “The War of the Worlds” (a famous comic program) by insert a news bulletin which made a widespread reaction and panic among the American Mass audience. Through this investigation he found the media messages may affect or may not affect audience.

“People’s Choice” a study conducted by Lazarsfeld in 1940 about Franklin D. Roosevelt election campaign and the effects of media messages. Through this study Lazarsfeld disproved the Magic Bullet theory and added audience are more influential in interpersonal than a media messages.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

John July 9, 2011 at 11:51 am

very nice :)

Dike July 23, 2011 at 11:07 pm

The magic theory had effect at the period under mention today,s audience believes in interpersonal relations to influence opinion or build attitude

Jeanne Mayeux August 5, 2011 at 2:51 am

Does anyone think that the divisive nature of our politicians are created by the media being sensationalistic with the opinionated rants conducted by their hired pundits? I do. I also believe this practice is tearing our society apart and making people angry over issues that are really just created by the 24 hours news channels. Things are never as bad as what the news media makes it out to be. I should know I worked for one of these channels.

Joyce Gwatidzo August 13, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I agree with Jeanne . Considering the marked diversity of individual’s backgrounds there is simply no way they can be lumped into one mass which interprets a message uniformly. Just like how someone shot in the head may die but another may live to tell the tale.Also the same injection does not have a fixed effect on every individual, some are healed and some are not whilst some even develop fatal reactions. So even metaphorically speaking the term hypordermic syringe still leaves room for different reactions to a message.

Sonya August 16, 2011 at 12:57 am

I also agree with Jeanne. If you know personally what occurred you know that the media tends to blow things out of proportion and then by the time that everyone adds their take on the matter, a blitz can occur with very little actually taking place.

Suthira Rajapaksha September 13, 2011 at 10:17 am

I am suthira Rajapaksha in Sri Lanka . I like to learn mass Communication and mass media. I have a MA degree of mass communication University of Kelaniya

machawe September 16, 2011 at 1:12 am

the ar4e many things that negetive effects through the media messages which means the are some massages that needs acritical eye befor they can be sent to people, so I think the censorship system must intrduced again.

moureen October 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm

people have no stregth ones the media pull their trigger they completely surrender by believing what is broadcasted

Gladys November 21, 2011 at 3.46 November 21, 2011 at 6:20 pm

A majority of mass media audiences take in messages just they way they stream in and tend to believe every bit of the message content. However, a part of the audience with analytical minds, thoroughly scrutinize the messages and draw conclusions from personal judgment.

manhar UP December 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm

i Agree to Jeanne. But one thing is left i think. Only the media is not changed. The Audience also have changed a lot. they want only the juicy news, and that is why people seem to subscribe more than one newspapers as they they wish to graze through different Channels.

Binod kumar pradhan December 12, 2011 at 6:37 am

I am binod kumar pradhan, pursuing my MA JMC course under Ravenshaw University , Cuttack, Odisha, India. I think it was good for media organisation since 1970. After 1970 the rise of electronic media had made it very meaningless theory but till now we can’t deny on its functioning because it work today as a anonymous theory.

Michael Tawiah March 28, 2012 at 5:05 am

The media plays on the emotions and intelligence of the audince because they leave no room for the audience to think.The message is imposed on the audience

Ibrahim Ismail May 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I rather see similarities with the magic bullet theory and the agena setting theory based on the fact that the media hits on issues of their interest or want audiences to believe and they tend to show some kind of passiveness in their absorbtion of information

vinitha January 16, 2013 at 8:14 pm

thums up! thank you

insah haki January 26, 2013 at 9:01 pm

mass media use as mass deception in the society, MASS WHO REALLY DO NOT THINK CRITICALLY TAKES WHAT EVER THE MEDIA BROADCAST. AND IT SHOULD BE SEEN AS A BODY THAT PROMOTE THE POLICIES OF GOVERNMENT NOT A REVOLUTIONAL BODY OR ANY KIND OF VIOLENT ANTIPASTI…..THERE I COMMENT.

Lee March 18, 2013 at 8:37 pm

Hi, I`m a uni student. I`m Korean.
I`m looking for more examples of the bullet theory for my assignment. So if some one knows it just help me out PLZ

alli ibukun mistura July 22, 2013 at 10:33 pm

what are the relevance of the academics needle theory in the current communication environment?

Fatima Salifu Amankwah March 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm

the media though helps us for information to reach us they are now putting pressure on us to listen to whatever they publish .IS THAT WHAT THE MEDIA IS TO THE MASS??????????LVU “THE PREACHER”

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