The past several decades have witnessed thousands of studies into the effects of media on children and adults. The effects
sizes that are found in these studies are typically small to moderate, at best. In this article, we first compare the effect
sizes found in media-effects research to those found in other social and behavioral sciences, and demonstrate that small effect
sizes are just as common in these other disciplines. Then, we discuss why, in contradiction to these other disciplines, small
media effects often lead to opposing, or even polarized views among communication scholars. Finally, we present five challenges
for future media-effects research that may increase the explanatory power of current media-effects models: 1) improved media
exposure measures; 2) more programmatic research on conditional media effects; 3) more targeted, cumulative theory testing;
4) a broader recognition of transactional media effects; and 5) a reconsideration of the media-effects paradigm in the context
of new media.
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