Communication Theory Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

media equation theory and its applications. The author of this paper uses the movie The Truman Show to develop an understanding for the reader of what the Media Equation Theory is and how it can be applied to media examples such as the movie. There were six sources used to complete this paper. The paper is in MLA format.


The technological explosion of the last three decades has taken us to places we never dreamed before were possible. With each passing year, the technology becomes more linked to human thought and emotions than ever before. Today, there are studies being conducted worldwide to understand the phenomena of people treating their media tools in the same manner that their human interactions are treated. For several years, the habits and protocol of people who work with these questions have been narrowly defined by the rigid demands of research protocol. However, recently a movie was put on the market that studied the very human and technology theory of media equation. This movie underscores the theory and the theory's application to real life. It proves the theory because the human viewers relate to Truman as if his life was real and Truman believes that he is living in the real world due to technological interferences.

Recently, a theory has developed involving media psychology. This psychological theory deals with aspects of cognitive and humanistic psychology in relation to the media available to us today (Luskin pp82). The human and machine interaction is one that is relatively new by historical standards but one that bears study because of the fast paced exploration that technology is experiencing. This theory applies to both computer interaction and television interaction. In this pape, r the study of The Truman Show dovetails perfectly with the theory of media psychology for several reasons." Cognitive capacities provide the vehicle through which humans receive, organize and interpret information. Conscious states enabling experience include: attention and attention span; sensations; perceptions of time, space and movement; and perceptual and psycho visual illusions. Interactive experiences activate conditions of motivation and emotion and result in thinking, learning, perceiving, conceptualizing and imagining (Luskin pp82). "

A recent study concluded that the human interaction with media has become more developed and involved than it was previously. This involvement comes on the heals of email, chat rooms and other non-face-to-face relationships that may be transferred to the computer instead of the person typing on the other end of the communication (Carlson pp 170).

Gender and race stereotyping have also affected the media theories. Latin groups have been working to gray the areas of technological language to more closely universalize the ability to consider it with a humanistic approach (Hernadez pp ).

The Media Equation of Communication Theory is a theory that brings together the human mind and emotion with the cold workings of technology. The theory explores the fact that humans place an almost humanistic expectation on the technological tools that we use today and that the interaction is fully meshed at this point in our history.

Before we can evaluate The Truman Show as an example of the Media Equation Theory, we first must have a firm understanding of the theory itself and how it is applied.

In "The Media Equation: How People Treat Computers, Television, and New Media Like Real People and Places" by Byron Reeves the reader is given an inside look at the way the theory affects human behavior and thought (Reeves pp ). The author describes the theory as being able to take any social psychology on earth and instead of studying a person at the opposite end, study the computer in their place and the results will be surprisingly similar. The theory believes that people feel, interact and use their media tools today, such as the computer in the same manner that they use the human beings in their lives. The theory also has an interesting side note that people will deny this is the case when asked (Reeves pp ). The theory allows that we interact with media tools as humans on a subconscious level. In simple terms this explains why people speak lovingly of their computer model and brand and brag about its performance as if they were bragging about their child or spouse's accomplishments. This theory uses a solid humanistic approach in its application. The humanistic approach involves the realization of self-actualization as well as other elements of self. The use of media today, allows for an even more developed sense of self-actualization as people can mass communicate as well as present ideals artificially without risk of stigma personally (Reeves pp ).

There are many programs designed to promote the theory of media equation including cute little animals that talk to us when we search the net or turn on the computer. This also plays into the humanistic approach as it involves social and intellectual interaction with the machine (Everitt, pp 45).

One of the most revealing studies of the media equation theory is the recent movie The Truman Show, starring Jim Carry. The theory of media equation is what the entire movie revolves around. It is a story of an artificially created life. As a newborn Truman is taken to a movie set and for years his life is controlled by technology without his knowledge. Actors play various parts and he grows up and becomes an adult believing he lives in the real world when it fact it is a technologically created world. The real world turns on the televisions each day to watch his show (Truman Show, The Fans of the show have spent three decades watching Truman's life unfold. Sponsors have commercial weaved throughout the dialogue so that fans will be promoted to by the products without Truman catching on to the fake life he leads. The humanistic approach is clearly demonstrated in this movie as Truman realizes self-actualization at the end when he discovers the truth and leaves to fulfill his potential. However the media equation theory is also clearly demonstrated throughout the movie, by the fact that the viewers come to relate and believe in Truman as a human instead of a technologically developed replica. The Truman Show illustrates the theory of a humanistic approach. The Humanistic theory dictates several levels of self-actualization. The fulfillment of basic needs must be met, such as sex, food, and water. The Truman show provides those things for Truman without him ever having to doubt their availability. The next level in the theory involves feeling accepted and loved. Because of the media developed life he is living it is guaranteed from week to week that Truman has always and will always feel those things (Truman Show, The The final level of the Humanistic theory is reached when the person fills one's unique potential. This is realized by Truman but falsely as it is completely engineered by the show. All of the aspects of this show and every level of filled humanistic theory requirements is created by the media. This allows for the understanding of the premise of the media equation theory.

The theory is solid in its infancy because humans do tend to equate media tools and technology with human equal ness. However, the theory will most likely not hold up under any and all circumstances and situations because of the human factor that is never completely predictable. The Truman Show is a believable example of media manipulation and how affective it can be because of the human willingness to play into the media Equation Theory foundation.

"Stanford researchers Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass make the case that people dislike some Web sites -- not because they are badly designed, but because the sites behave badly during their visit (Net pp 40)."

Computer programs are humanized to further perpetuate the theories reality. As we purchase things online we are told periodically of things that might go well with our purchase. A live person suggestive sells as part of the job on a daily basis (Net pp 40). Those who designed these programs have taken the media equation theory to new heights and used it to manipulate buyers in the same way that a salesperson is taught to do so (Net pp 40). " A confirmation to customers that they're "doing the right things" to accomplish a transaction -- commonplace in real-life transactions -- is used effectively at Amazon. Amazon also effectively uses physical places on its site to let people know what to expect of the information presented in those places. For example, the largest column of information (the middle two-thirds of each page from the top to the bottom) is devoted to product information. And regardless of whether a shopper is looking for books, music or electronic gear, the function of the space is unchanged (Net pp 40). "


Through the use of media manipulation we have perpetuated the media equation theory. As technology continues to advance we find our media…

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