How the Media Uses Cognition to Affect Social Change
Since the mid part of the last century, psychologists and sociologists have attempted to understand how the general public is affected by the media in terms of social change. It all seems to stem from the belief that people learn through observation and if they observe ‘norms’ in behavior spun by the media, they will begin acting in a desired way. Whether you are aware of it or not, this happens every day and once you begin to see the way it works, you’ll be able to quickly spot a pattern.
Cognition and Social Change
Before being able to see just how media can affect social change through cognition, it is first important to take a quick look at the cognitive thought process. In effect, cognition is our way of putting things into parameters of understanding. We learn that if we do ‘this’ then ‘that’ will happen. This ‘if-then’ logic is how computers operate and they were, of course, based on human logic. After all humans program them!
So, getting back to cognition, the media understands that we learn by watching how things work when a specific set of ‘rules’ or ‘operating principles’ are followed. They have refined the psychology of cognition to such an extent that they can literally bend the truth to make consumers see something that isn’t there. In this way, they lead you to want or need something that has no basis in reality.
Politics, Cognition and Social Change
Perhaps the very best example of how the media manipulates consumers is in light of politics. Think about all the elections you have personally witnessed in your lifetime, and those that went down in history. For example, President Obama’s campaign was developed around the ‘Yes we can’ slogan, leading people to believe that if they voted for him there would be a change in the way Washington operates.
Critics have pointed out that many of the ‘changes’ he sought to institute were changes but not the kinds of changes his supporters were looking for. Debt is a key issue. At this point, it is important to note that this is not a treatise on President Obama but rather how the media affects social change by molding our perception of reality. It happens all the time, in literally every presidential campaign. With that said, let’s get back to figures.
Key Figures that Won a Campaign
When President Obama was on the road campaigning, a big part of his campaign was the national debt which accrued from the time that President Clinton (D) left office until the 7th year in President Bush’s (R) tenure. Most people aren’t aware of the fact that the national deficit has risen and that federal spending has actually increased by 7.9% as of October of 2014.
They are also unaware of the fact that those corporate legal and accounting teams in Washington can put a slant of figures to make you see a country flourishing that is actually owned by foreign entities. This is all based on cognition. We believe we are learning something that will result in a certain way if we act the way we are told we should. This is not specific to politics and is actually predominant in every aspect of the human condition. The media can, and does, shape the way we act by using a precise methodology based on the cognitive process.
There is a real problem in most developed countries with cognitive association and why medications such as generic Provigil are so much in need.
Is this a bad thing? No, it is not.
If there is an aid out there to improve our thought processes so that we can come up with rational conclusions being shaped by our own experiences, it is a very good thing indeed. Just be aware of how the media wants to influence you so that you can make your own decisions, not those they lead you to make. With an election year coming up, this should be interesting to watch.
Guest Author: Keith Sullivan