introduction to media theory. an appreciation for the role theory plays in our society, including the relationship of theory to research and the application of theoretical models to contemporary phenomena.
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1. This course is offered in the Department of Media Studies and Production. The “media” in the
department name refers to:
a. human communication in any form
b. the organizations, content, and devices of mass communication
c. smart phones and computers
d. digital platforms but not traditional platforms such as newspapers
2. The “airplane test” (also called “train test”), in which survey respondents are asked if they would be
willing to talk about various topics with a stranger, is used to test which theory?
a. cultivation theory
b. spiral of silence
c. communication privacy management theory
d. uses & gratifications
3. For Stuart Hall and other scholars in the critical theory tradition, the purpose of theory and research is to
a. discover truth
b. critique media choices
c. change society
d. seek production efficiency
4. A class reading asked “do we all live in a shared world culture?” The answer to that question put forth
in the reading and discussed in class is:
a. Nickelodeon (owned by Viacom) is a powerful company in the United States, but it is not part of a
“shared world culture,” as it is not well known elsewhere in the world.
b. media globalization is a complex process, and the sharing of world culture varies depending on people’s
access to computers and the Internet in different places.
c. the study of other cultures requires understanding both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic aspects of
local television programming on other continents.
d. experimental research has shown that media effects are much weaker in globalized economies than
they are in non-globalized economies.
5. The main point of the assigned class reading about the movie “Frozen” was
a. Anna and Elsa, the movie’s central characters, provide representation of Icelandic people
b. there are both hegemonic and counter-hegemonic aspects in the movie’s plot
c. people might choose to watch this movie for different psychological gratifications
d. set in the Nordic area of the world, the movie is an example of globalized culture
6. A shared aspect of semiotics and cultural studies is that:
a. both rely on objective statistical research and analysis to support their claims
b. both concern the ways that dominant values are perpetuated in society
c. both defend the status quo as the way things ought to be
d. there are no shared aspects of semiotics and cultural studies
7. The article we read about esports arenas mentioned that playing video games is popular for many
reasons: you can be a participant or a spectator, games can provide an engrossing experience, there can
be a competitive aspect, you can earn money from gaming, gaming can be a social experience, it can be an
escape, games can generate memes like the Fortnite dance, and games can be a way to learn.
What would Elihu Katz say about this?
a. If people play a lot of video games, they may think that the real world is more violent than it actually is.
b. Through their avatars and actions, video games support the dominant values of our culture.
c. This indicates that different people may choose to use the same media for different reasons.
d. The economics of the video game industry are changing as gaming becomes a bigger part of the
media landscape.
8. Media critic Edward Herman made this comment about the traditional press:
“the editors’ class bias is so firmly internalized, and the bias they display is
so widely shared in the corporate media, that they don’t even recognize the
existence — let alone legitimacy — of an alternative view.”
This comment echoes the basic claim of
a. mediatization
b. cultural studies
c. media effects
d. spiral of silence
9. According to Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, what is the source of information about public
opinion that is perceived by the quasi-statistical organ?
a. the resonance selector
b. the avant-garde
c. the media
d. dominant ideological coding
10. Globalization is often analyzed in terms of
a. politics – economics – culture
b. economics – natural disasters – elections
c. shipping – hegemony – media
d. geography – humanity – satellites
11. The Economist magazine reading called “the attention economy” discusses “monetizing users’ eyeballs.”
This refers to
a. special augmented reality goggles that consumers can buy
b. the semiotic meanings of eyes as a way humans communicate
c. the notion that media consumers are “products” that are sold to advertisers
d. Sandra Petronio’s rule-based theory as applied to attention-seeking media behavior
12. One concern of cultural studies is
a. analyzing children’s reactions to Bobo dolls
b. the hypodermic needle model as it pertains to modernist themes
c. understanding aspects of dominant and oppositional ideas in society
d. distinguishing the hard-core from the avant-garde
13. One key difference between social learning theory and cultivation theory is:
a. one deals with news media; the other deals with entertainment TV
b. one was developed to analyze teenagers’ reactions to comic books; the other was developed later,
when video games became popular
c. one is about media effects on behavior; the other is about media effects on perceptions
d. one is a dominant ideological code; the other is an oppositional code
14. Which of the following statements about the hypodermic needle model is correct?
a. this model of media effects concerns news programming but not entertainment
b. this model of media effects has been widely adopted by media theorists
c. this model of media effects was developed recently, in response to media convergence
d. this model of media effects has not been supported by research
15. The reason we discussed the importance of establishing source credibility is that:
a. vicarious sources could derail any attempts to apply the CRAAP test.
b. to be able to analyze any statement you first need to verify whether the statement is based on facts.
c. source signification is highly dependent on the semiotic properties of sources.
d. media convergence means that sources are losing the “paper trails” that help establish credibility.
16. One aspect of society that cultural studies helps explain is
a. how children react in the short-term when they see lots of murders on TV
b. how vicarious rewards can raise the level of cultural awareness in the general population
c. the general acceptance of the capitalist system even among people who do not benefit from it
d. why experiments like the Bobo doll study are so useful for understanding childrens’
17. The cartoon at right concerns
a. the symbolic environment of
comic strips
b. the media representation of
c. the semiotic connotations
of cars
d. the vicarious rewards of
18. One way that the ideas of cultural studies are linked to globalization is:
a. globalization is centrally concerned with not changing the status quo as it benefits from
negotiated readings
b. the theorist of cultural studies felt that the representation of developing nations in the U.S. press
was inadequate
c. large media corporations like Disney are considered to be major forces of globalization as they seek
to expand their markets
d. there are no links between cultural studies and globalization
19. In terms of a basic communication model, mass communication is best described as
a. the exchange of information between sender and receiver
b. information that is sent from the audience to a media company
c. message feedback that takes place in a continuous channel
d. one-way flow of information from sender to receiver
20. A major difference between uses & gratifications theory and spiral of silence is:
a. uses & gratifications is about what people do with media, while spiral of silence is about what
media do to people.
b. uses & gratifications is about the way media users choose among brands, while spiral of silence
is about how media users select apps.
c. uses & gratifications uses experimental research, while spiral of silence is based on very
detailed ethnography.
d. there are no major differences between these theories; they are basically the same thing.
21. “Attention, retention, and motivation” are the three steps necessary for what process to take place?
a. cultivation
b. social learning
c. mainstreaming
d. hegemony
22. The theorist who developed cultural studies called the theory “cultural studies” even though it’s about
media because he believed that
a. it is important to study all global cultures, not just better-known ones
b. media messages cannot be separated from the cultures they come from
c. communication needs the ethical compass provided by philosophical studies
d. media producers are always concerned with making contributions to universal culture
The Griffin chapter on semiotics contains a detailed discussion of changes over time in
the social meanings of yellow ribbons. The yellow ribbon example is used to explain
a. typologies
b. quasi-statistical sense
c. the global information revolution
d. second-order signification
The headline above is from a newspaper article published last month (Nov. 2019). The article
explains that an advocacy group that monitors media representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people has found a steadily increasing number of LGBTQ characters
positively portrayed in U.S. TV shows. Regarding this change in mainstream TV characters, Stuart
Hall would say
a. this affects denotations of LGBTQ roles, but it does not affect their connotations or other
semiotic qualities
b. this might cause problems in terms of violation of the privacy boundaries of some television
c. this will provide gratifications for those viewers who prefer watching TV over playing video
d. this represents a shift in ideological coding in terms of media representation of sexual minorities
25. The relationship of uses and gratifications theory to media effects theories is:
a. uses and gratifications has no relationship to media effects theories; it emerged from traditional
media industries’ efforts to influence the public
b. uses and gratifications was developed before the idea of media effects emerged; parents alarmed by
gangster movies were the impetus
c. uses and gratifications arose as a response to media effects theories; the theorist wanted to
investigate what people did with media
d. uses and gratifications is a media effects theory; it was one of the first researchable theories to come
out after the hypodermic needle model was discredited
26. Why did we learn about interpersonal communication in our media theory class?
a. because some interpersonal communication is mediated
b. because vicarious interpersonal learning is important for media producers
c. because the “TV world” features interpersonal relationships
d. because understanding hegemony requires understanding interpersonal communication
27. One conclusion that came out of class discussions of uses and gratifications theory was that
a. People use media for reasons that are uniform across different demographic categories.
b. There are possible gratifications that are not included in the typology presented in the textbook.
c. This theory is not useful now because digital technologies have changed everything about media.
d. It is not possible to apply this theory to people’s enthusiasm for videogames.
# 28-32
Do movie smokers lead children to the habit?
Research from Dartmouth pediatrician James Sargent seems to indicate that the more children are
exposed to movie smokers, the higher the likelihood they’ll start smoking as teens.
We don’t know exactly why youth are influenced by media portrayals of smoking. Perhaps movies
(and the celebrities who star in them) make smoking seem cool. Kids who want to be like Sean
Penn will imitate the way he talks, dresses – and smokes. Another line of thinking is that pervasive
smoking makes cigarette use seem normal – something “everybody” does… Finally, movie
portrayals of smoking may actually teach young people how to smoke – how to light up; how to
inhale; how to flick the ashes.
28. According to spiral of silence theory, if a nonsmoking youth got the idea that smoking is what
“everybody” does, they might be likely to
a. take up smoking to be part of the crowd
b. conceal the fact that they do not smoke
c. try to convince their friends not to smoke
d. ask their parents for permission to smoke
29. Concerning the news item, the assertion that “movie portrayals of smoking may actually teach young
people how to smoke – how to light up; how to inhale; how to flick the ashes” is most related to the
claims of which theory?
a. cultivation theory
b. hypodermic needle model
c. social learning theory
d. cultural studies
30. If a viewer binge-watches this type of movie on TV and gets the idea that, as the article states, smoking
cigarettes is, “normal – something ‘everybody’ does,” which theory that we have studied could be
applied to understand how the viewer could come to have this perception?
a. cultivation theory
b. uses & gratifications
c. social learning theory
d. cultural studies
31. If teenagers decide to take up smoking because they feel like they are friends with Sean Penn (even
though they don’t know him) and they want to be like their friend, we would say that
a. they are using their “quasi-statistical sense” to try to seem cool
b. they are enacting a type of selective exposure to media content
c. they are engaged in a parasocial relationship with the movie star
d. they are using smoking as a gratification of their needs
32. Select the answer below that would be an accurate application of semiotics to this statement:
“Perhaps movies (and the celebrities who star in them) make smoking seem cool”
a. signifier=smoking; signified=cool
b. denotation= celebrities; signifier= movies
c. connotation=smoking; sign=cool
d. signified=cool; sign=movies
33. The question-and-answer at right was
published in Parade magazine on
December 1, 2019.
A theory that could help explain the
misperception discussed is
a. uses & gratifications
b. social learning theory
c. cultural studies
d. cultivation
34. The “global information revolution” described by Joseph Pelton in a class reading refers to
a. the worldwide interconnectivity provided by satellite systems
b. the typologies used by media institutions to understand their global audiences
c. the way that the global status quo is maintained by media corporations
d. the processing of information by social media users wherever they reside
35. Recently, visitors to were invited to fill out a survey about their viewing preferences. One of
the survey questions is reproduced below.
Thinking about your favorite television shows, why do you like them?
Please select up to your top 7 reasons for each show. Please select all that apply.
It’s a source of comfort
The characters become like family, and I want to spend time with them
It makes me laugh
It takes me on an intense, emotional journey
It transports me to another time or place
It allows me to live out my darkest fantasies
I can enjoy it without having to think too hard
It allows me to stay up-to-date on current events
Provides opportunity to spend time with my friends
It allows me to live vicariously through its characters
It lets me escape from everyday life
So that I can talk about it with my friends
Provides opportunity to spend time with my children
The theory we have studied that is most clearly reflected in the survey item above is:
a. semiotics
b. uses and gratifications
c. social learning theory
d. cultural studies
38- 39. → The assigned reading about the low number of interracial couples in films discusses the
“dissemination of social and political values through entertainment” and notes that “the census
finds record rates of mixed marriages and relationships but few of these couples or their children
make it to the screen.”
36. Concerning the statements above, George Gerbner would say:
a. this situation in Hollywood films is because people’s privacy boundaries are not being respected.
b. this misrepresentation will cause people to underestimate the prevalence of interracial couples.
c. this aspect of contemporary films reflects the notion that we all live in a shared world culture.
d. this will affect the kinds of gratifications that some people will seek from films in the future.
37. Concerning the statements above, Stuart Hall would say:
a. this will cause viewers in interracial relationships to turn away from mainstream productions
b. in light of this situation, film-makers will have to alter their typologies
c. this is an example of the way that the media conveys ideological coding of racial separation
d. these observations may apply to the United States, but they would not apply in other cultures
38. The ad at right appeared in the Facebook feed of a person
who lives in Pennsylvania but has many Facebook friends
and contacts in Chile. Which aspect of media that we
discussed and read about in class could be used to describe
this ad?
a. media convergence
b. parasocial relationship
c. monetizing eyeballs
d. dominant ideological coding
39. The “theory trading card” shown at right features a
theorist who posed the question “where do
people get their meanings?” His answer is
a. through news agendas
b. through message system analysis
c. through culture
d. through technology
40. The relationship between mass communication and communication is
a. communication is one type of mass media
b. mass communication and communication are the same thing
c. mass communication is a subset of communication
d. there is no relationship despite the similar labels
43.-44. →
41. The theorist we have studied whose ideas most directly explain the father’s attitude in the above
cartoon is
a. Em Griffin
b. Roland Barthes
c. George Gerbner
d. Elihu Katz
42. The father is concerned about the headband because of its
a. resonance
b. connotation
c. convergence
d. gratifications
43. A typology is
a. a system of handwriting analysis as applied by scholars of mass communication theories.
b. a theory about indirect effects of media developed to analyze the popularity of comics.
c. an organization of a large number of items into a smaller number of categories.
d. a way of selecting which media to consume that favors excitement over relaxation.
44. One requirement of any theory is that it be:
a. systematic – it must explain more than one case
b. interactive – it must encompass both objective and interpretive models
c. resonant – it must trigger associations with past experiences
d. critical – it must desensitize theorists from disapproval by their peers
45. We read an article about an African-American woman who owns a comic book shop in Philadelphia. She
makes sure to stock comic books that feature females “taking the lead in things” and “where girls are
the heroes and not just the love interests or the sidekick.” The reason we read this article in
connection with cultural studies is:
a. the article concerns popular culture
b. comic books are a globalized form of media
c. one of the comics has a superhero modeled on Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann
d. the article provides an example of counter-hegemonic media
46. One main point of the assigned reading about e-sports arenas is that
a. because e-sports have growing numbers of players and fans, this new media form is providing a
way to re-purpose old properties, including movie theaters
b. behind its elaborate costumes and fantasy society, “Game of Thrones” provides models for
contemporary politics as well as video games
c. e-sports was a fad that has passed – now video games are more sophisticated a …
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