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Behavioral Sciences and the Mass Media

Behavioral Sciences and the Mass Media

Ben H. Bagdikian
Leo Bogart
Edgar F. Borgatta
Marvin Bressler
John Mack Carter
Wayne A. Danielson
W. Phillips Davison
Emmett Dedmon
Eli Ginzberg
Ernest Havemann
Herbert H. Hyman
Robert L. Jones
Alfred J. Kahn
Joseph T. Klapper
Melvin L. Kohn
Daniel Lerner
Ronald Lippitt
John W. Riley
Earl Ubell
Richard C. Wald
Stanton Wheeler
Robin M. Williams
Editor Frederick T. C. Yu
Copyright Date: 1968
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Behavioral Sciences and the Mass Media
    Book Description:

    Presents papers which were discussed at the Arden House Conference-a conference held to establish a working relationship between sociologists at the Russell Sage Foundation and journalists of the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University. Both behavioral science and journalism have for a long time been concerned with some of the same major national social problems-juvenile delinquency, urban problems, race and minority group relations, international tensions, and labor relations. These papers touch on some of the barriers to communication and point to possible ways of breaking through those barriers.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-705-8
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Editor’s Foreword
    (pp. v-xii)
    Frederick T. C. Yu

    In the spring of 1966, the Russell Sage Foundation and the Graduate School of Journalism of Columbia University invited sixty prominent scholars and journalists to a Conference on Behavioral Sciences and the Mass Media. The three-day conference, which was held on April 1–3 at Arden House, Harriman, New York, aimed at exploring ways to achieve closer cooperation and interplay between the two fields and thus to increase and improve public understanding of behavioral sciences. This book is the outcome of that conference.

    It is no new knowledge that public understanding of behavioral sciences is at best superficial. This is...

  3. Conference Participants
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. SESSION ONE. Public and Mass Media Uses of the Behavioral Sciences

    • 1 The Potential Public Uses of the Behavior Sciences
      (pp. 3-27)
      Marvin Bressler

      The amenities of scholarly exchange during any colloquium dealing with the mass media require at least some passing reference to a “communication model.” By fortunate happenstance, it is actually convenient in this case to explore the “potential public uses of the behavior sciences” by imagining a sequence beginning withmessages(the substance, procedures, and ideology of the disciplines which study human action) that are relayed byagents(the spoken word, the printed page, the silver screen) to targetpopulations(students, clients, and citizens). The message may be described as “useful” when it 1) refers to issues that are salient for...

    • 2 Newspaper Journalism and the Behavioral Sciences
      (pp. 28-44)
      Richard C. Wald

      “The art of editing has advanced; it shows greater discrimination, a broader point of view…. To print the debates … in full, as the old-age newspapers would have done, avails less with busy people than to print the general drift of the speeches, the general sentiment of Congress…. All technique has advanced. Our newspapers are sharper, quicker, more moderate, nearer to the truth and to sound principles of sociology than the newspaper of twenty or thirty years ago. We may have less genius, but we have more trained and specialized talent.”

      Although the quotation sounds, except for some of the...

    • 3 A Review of Session One
      (pp. 45-54)
      Ben H. Bagdikian and John W. Riley Jr.

      The two fields—behavioral sciences and the mass media—operate on quite different levels, trying to do quite different things, though with obvious overlaps. This is one of the problems involved when we start talking about the press and the behavioral sciences.

      One of the other problems is that we are not sure what sort of relationship we’re talking about. Do we want the press to cover the behavioral sciences as it would education? Or should newspapers, papers and the press generally, use the behavioral sciences to organize themselves in a corporate way? Or do we mean that the news apparatus...

  6. SESSION TWO. Social Issues and the Mass Media

    • 4 Implications for the Mass Media of Research on Intergroup Relations and Race
      (pp. 57-76)
      Robin M. Williams Jr.

      Our mandate here is to present some of the concepts and findings of social science concerning intergroup relations (especially “race” relations) that are particularly pertinent for mass media dissemination to the public. Since this task calls for many judgments in deciding what to leave out from among a very large number of quite disparate studies, it will not be surprising if some of the choices seem arbitrary. We hope, however, that some of the items chosen will be useful and reasonably important for considering the place of mass media in intergroup relations in the United States today.

      As recently as...

    • 5 Social Class and Serious Mental Disorder
      (pp. 77-92)
      Melvin L. Kohn

      In this essay, I shall attempt to assess the evidence suggesting that social class somehow is related to the incidence of serious mental disorder, particularly to the types of disorder we call schizophrenia. The evidence is inconclusive, but tantalizing, and since we have no better leads about the dynamics of schizophrenia, this one is worth pursuing; therefore, I shall go on to consider what this might suggest for our understanding of the dynamics of the disorders. Finally, I shall touch on some of the much less equivocal evidence that social class importantly affects how people suffering from serious mental disorder...

    • 6 Poverty and Public Policy
      (pp. 93-123)
      Alfred J. Kahn

      If wars may be said to have honeymoon periods, the honeymoon of the war against poverty was over almost before it had begun. Moreover, by the time the effort had entered its second program year, claims of fiscal mismanagement, of political abuse, of the locking out of “normal” political participation, and of inadequacy in concept and implementation all served to emphasize that mayhem might well be committed or divorce proposed—unless, of course, the demands of the “other” war effort in Vietnam were in themselves sufficient to curtail the enterprise.

      Most citizens confronted with possibilities such as these would know...

    • 7 Automation–Impact of Computers
      (pp. 124-130)
      Eli Ginzberg

      Let us begin by recalling some connections between social science and journalism. Three or four years ago, a journalist by the name of Abe Raskin did a series in theNew York Timeson technology and unemployment. To the best of my knowledge, he did it before anybody in the academic community had become alert to the fact that the economy is not necessarily self-regulating with respect to technology and employment, as we had presumed it was. He also dealt with such complex subjects as private demand and public services and related matters. Therefore it does not seem that knowledge...

    • 8 Crime and Violence
      (pp. 131-150)
      Stanton Wheeler

      It is manifestly impossible, in the brief space of a single paper to provide a thorough review of the major social science concepts and findings concerning crime. I have therefore restricted my comments to a few selected topics, each of which will necessarily be treated in less than complete fashion.

      The most salient features of crime in the United States would appear to include at least the following:

      1. Crime rates are high, and may be getting higher. To say that a rate of crime is high is to suggest a criterion that distinguishes a high from a low rate. Here...

  7. SESSION THREE. Journalists and Behavioral Scientists

    • 9 Social Sciences in the Mass Media
      (pp. 153-174)
      Leo Bogart

      Whether we think abstractly of the social sciences and the mass media, or somewhat more realistically of social scientists and mass media practitioners, we are dealing with two very large and diverse entities, each encompassing an enormous range of distinct subspecies. The social sciences, after all, range from the steaming borderlines of physiological psychology to the icy regions of econometrics; the mass media cover all the ground between Cinemascope spectaculars to the news ticker disgorging baseball scores and stock quotations. When we delimit either area, say, to the so-called behavioral sciences of sociology, social anthropology, and social psychology on the...

    • 10 Barriers to Communication: The Problem of Jargon
      (pp. 175-183)
      Ernest Havemann

      One of the dictionary meanings ofjargonis perfectly straightforward and respectable; the word is defined simply as the technical vocabulary of a science or profession. The word is seldom used this way; it is almost always used pejoratively, and I am sure that the sponsors of this conference used it pejoratively when they asked us to address ourselves to its role in the behavioral sciences. However, I think we can profit from putting aside our semantic habits for a moment and talking about jargon merely as technical vocabulary, and not necessarily as gobbledygook or gibberish.

      How much jargon—as...

    • 11 Barriers to Communication: Another Journalist’s View
      (pp. 184-188)
      Emmett Dedmon

      It goes against the grain for a communicator to address himself solely to the “barriers” to the achievement of his professional goal. Yet this dour piece of research is my assignment, so I shall do my best to accentuate the negative.

      The first barrier to communications between behaviorial scientists and journalists arises, it seems to me, from the dual role that both play in dealing with subject matter which is of mutual concern.

      Professionally, both are cast in the role of observer-recorder or—if you prefer quantitative social science—in the role of evaluator. At the same time both are...

    • 12 Barriers to Communication: As Seen by a Social Psychologist
      (pp. 189-195)
      Ronald Lippitt

      I accept the assumption implicit in the topic of behavioral scientists and communications professionals, and I would like to use the wordprofessionalsinstead ofcraftsmenbecause my contacts with journalists have convinced me that it is a profession rather than a craft or a business.

      I accept the fact that the behavioral scientists and the communications professionals do have joint interests in the communication of science-based knowledge to various publics and that we do encounter a variety of problems of collaboration and communication with each other in trying to carry out this common mission. Although there are a number...

    • 13 Barriers to Communication: As Seen by a Sociologist
      (pp. 196-201)
      Edgar F. Borgatta

      As a social scientist, I should like to note that the title of this paper implies a particular model of communication. There are obviously two groups, journalists and behavioral scientists, and the model implies that, except for certain barriers, communication would be greater or better. This is a model that is practical and appealing, but from the point of view of social science it is a naive one.

      Of course, in the social sciences such models occur, as in the work of Kurt Lewin. That doesn’t make the models productive, no matter how appealing. In fact, using another popular approach...

    • 14 Perceptions of a Mass Audience
      (pp. 202-205)
      John Mack Carter

      Let us pull aside the veil: How does an editor of a mass magazine perceive his audience? What kinds of research does he use?

      1. Audience research to determine the size. This is equivalent to the marks on the kitchen door recording the growth of the children.

      2. Market research. How much money the subscriber makes and how he spends it. Enormous sums of money are spent in this research because the rewards are immediate and great.

      3. Editorial research on what he reads and how he responds to it. I have been most interested in this kind of research, of course, with...

    • 15 A Review of Session Three
      (pp. 206-216)
      Joseph T. Klapper and Herbert H. Hyman

      I am struck first by a willingness, a reluctant willingness, if you like, on the part of both journalists and social scientists to achieve some sort of rapport. Each group agreed that they were both in the same game, that they should understand each other, and that obviously they do not. Secondly, I perceived what at first seemed to me a rather appalling lack of knowledge on the part of both journalists and social scientists regarding the goals, activities, values, and problems of the other. On second thought, it occurred to me that this was a rather positive thing, because...

  8. SESSION FOUR. Prospects:: Training of Journalists in the Behavioral Sciences

    • 16 The Russell Sage-Columbia Program in Journalism and the Behavioral Sciences
      (pp. 219-228)
      W. Phillips Davison

      Having successfully avoided academic administration for twenty-five years, I suddenly find myself a vest-pocket-sized academic administrator. After examining this unfamiliar role from the viewpoint of a new incumbent, I have concluded that it somewhat resembles the role of the mother-in-law as described by Max Scheler. Like the mother-in-law, the academic administrator is necessary to a vital process, but is not part of it. He is doomed to remain on the outside, making attempts to influence a primary relationship in which he is not directly involved, often resented as a troublesome busy-body by the two principals, and suffering, himself, from the...

    • 17 Techniques for Improving Access to Social Science Data and Resources
      (pp. 229-233)
      Wayne A. Danielson

      Others have had a chance to deal with barriers to communication; my job is to suggest some ways of overcoming these barriers.

      My first suggestion is that the social sciences in general must do more than they have in the past to disseminate their own findings. Wilbur Schramm has written of the fraction of selection which determines whether a person will attend to a particular communication. In the numerator of this term is theExpectation of Reward. In the denominator is theEffort Required to Obtain the Information.

      Realistically appraising the mass media as potential users of social science data...

    • 18 Should There Be a Behavioral Science Beat?
      (pp. 234-241)

      Let me say at the outset that I do not believe that a newspaper should have a behavioral science beat. That goes for all other mass news organizations as well. Now, in any decent argument one must give one’s reasons. To be sure, I did not think of reasons until I had been asked to examine the problem. I doubt that I will convince anybody either way. In the long run irrational factors over which few individuals have control determine many fundamental aspects of the organization of newspapers, newsmagazines, and broadcasting companies.

      My major reason for opposing a behavioral science...

    • 19 A Review of Session Four
      (pp. 242-246)
      Robert L. Jones

      It is perhaps interesting to note that the number of journalists with behavioral science backgrounds is quite small, and that we are working with a deficit that has been accumulating for some time. The problem is not just what the perennial needs may be, but one of coping with an accumulation of deficit. We can start with a general assumption: There is a desirability of more and better social science coverage. Even if attention is devoted to making some progress in solving the problem of manpower, agreed that the need is there for the area to be covered, we also...

  9. SESSION FIVE. Summary and Conclusions

    • 20 Summary and Conclusions
      (pp. 249-260)
      Daniel Lerner

      I have been asked to present the summary and conclusions of this conference, and will begin with Session One. Marvin Bressler and Richard C. Wald were quite right in the strategy they followed. They had to get us social scientists and journalists divorced right at the start so we could later make up and really enjoy a honeymoon. They set up the “two cultures” situation, which is always a wonderful way to divide and drool. When C. P. Snow came to the M.I.T. Centennial and gave his “two cultures” speech, one of my cynical colleagues, an engineer, said, “If ever...

  10. Index
    (pp. 261-270)