Reinforcement Theory

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Reinforcement Theory
shiela leonardo, Member
Hi I am a college student and need to find out more on Reinforcement Theory (RT).
Wikipedia says RT is a limited effects media model applicable within the realm of communication. The theory generally states that people seek out and remember information that provides cognitive support for their pre-existing attitudes and beliefs. The main assumption that guides this theory is that people do not like to be wrong and often feel uncomfortable when their beliefs are challenged.

Politics provides an excellent setting for the study of reinforcement theory. The statistics on undecided voters indicate that most people have pre-existing beliefs when it comes to politics. Relatively few people remain undecided late. But much political advertising is targeted at these individuals not only because of their importance in the overall result, but also because they are the most susceptible to political persuasion (Johnson-Cartee & Copeland, 1997).

Part of the reason why undecided voters are frequent message targets can be found in RT, because it predicts that people with already developed opinions will selectively attend to and cognitively incorporate information that supports their own views anyway. So it seems not very effective to bombard them with other messages.
Reinforcement theory has three primary mechanisms behind it: selective exposure, selective perception, and selective retention.

Who can contribute some more information about RT beyond the above? Many thanks...



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