The Hypodermic Needle Theory

The Hypodermic Needle Theory is one of the earliest ways of thinking about how the media influences people, it was developed in the 1920’s and 1930’s after researches observed the effect of propaganda during World War 1 and events including the Orson Welles ‘War of the worlds’ broadcast.

The Hypodermic needle theory is a linear communication theory is a linear communication theory which suggests that media messages are injected directly into the brains of a passive audience. It suggests that we are all put in the same category.


This form of thinking about communication and media influences is no longer really accepted. In the 1930’s many researchers realized the limitations of this idea, and some disagreement with the early media theorists gave the idea any serious attention at all.

The theory continues to take effect on the way we talk about the media, people believe that the mass media has a powerful effect. Many people have discussed about the issue of children watching and playing media outlets that may or may not effect them in the long run, this is frequent in the modern day as media has become much more accessible to people and can be distributed in many forms. Parents worry about the influence of television in violent video games. News outlets run headlines like “Grand theft auto led teen to kill”. This brainwashes the consumer to think that this is completely true, as it’s coming from a particular form of media which is usually seen to be promoting true facts, and hard information.

The Payne Fund Studies which were conducted between 1929 and 1932, and looked at the effect of what movies have on children, contributed to the idea that the mass media has a powerful and direct impact on the audiences.

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