The Limited Effects Theory

During and after WW II, the limited effects theory gained solid ground. This process of consolidation continued up to the 1960s. Because of the bloodshed of WW I, the masses of the USA were not keen to fight another war. However, the Nazis had captured Europe in 1939. Austria was under their control. Italy and Japan had pledged support to Adolph Hitler. Hence, the war was inevitable. In the USA, the Office of War Information (OWI) was set up. Its objective was to change public opinion about (another) War. It also aimed to counter Nazi propaganda and educate the military about their fellow soldiers (who belonged to different nations or races). However, the OWI could not do much to achieve its objectives because speeches fell on deaf ears.

Hence, the OWI used the support of movie makers like Frank Capra and some radio announcers like Smith to start the magic spell. It also depended upon some social science researchers to measure the effectiveness of these new campaigns (propelled by the movie makers and radio announcers). The US Army set up an experimental section under the aegis of the Information and Education Division. This section had psychologists who were able to study changes in attitudes. Carl Hovland led this team of researchers. He studied the campaigns to change the attitude of the American masses towards the War. This group of researchers continued its work at Yale University even after the War (1945). It delivered results par excellence in the field of communication research.

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