Media use is one of the most popular leisure activities in modern societies, from watching television and reading the newspaper to playing computer games. Even though users tend to use media for entertainment, pastime and relaxation, they may also learn facts about the world, about themselves and others, or about social norms and values, and they may change their attitudes about social issues that concern the actual world. This raises research questions such as: Does watching romantic comedies shape moral perceptions and actions? Do people expect forensic evidence in real-life crime investigations after watching CSI? How are aggressive thoughts and behaviors influenced by action films? How can we use fictional media to purposefully convey pro-social attitudes? In addressing these questions, research on media uses and effects deals with a complex issue that receives ample political and societal attention. By analyzing health education campaigns or effective advertising strategies, the field of interest combines scientific research and social practice. Five topics are of particular interest in this broad research field:
1. Influence of media exposure on attitudes about the real world 2. Persuasive effects of narratives 3. Media selection processes 4. Relationships between new media developments and social changes 5. Emotional uses and effects
These topics are relevant for students at the Zeppelin University for three reasons: (1) Scientific findings of research on media and effects are applied in a variety of professional contexts, e.g. marketing or media research. (2) Various fields of expertise build on specific knowledge about audiences, e.g. journalism, public relations, media management or political consulting. (3) Empirical research trains important skills such as analytical thinking, problem solving and precise argumentation that are relevant for all professional goals of ZU-students.