Media effects refer to how mass media affects its audience in decision making. Priming is considered as the predecessor of agenda setting, one of the theories of media effects. Priming has its base in cognitive psychology which relates to associative network model of human memory. This concept details how one thought may generate associated thoughts.
Priming is a concept through which the media effects among the people are enhanced by providing a basic perception human minds take decisions based on the preconceptions that are already been stored in our memory. The memories are stored as a form of nodes and they are interconnected effectively and mostly act as a frame of reference to the decisions that we make. Priming enables the audience to evaluate the situation and to conclude how effective the media have been in order to make a decision by providing a frame of reference. Thus media creates an influence among people to make judgement or a decision.
Priming has been particularly evaluated during the elections and while choosing the right candidate. Particularly when it comes to politics where people lack the knowledge concerning political matters, they base their decisions on the information from the media which actually influences their decision making on whom to elect. This theory was put forward by Iyengar, Peters, and Kender in 1982 and labelled it as the priming effect.
Priming is an important concept in media effects. As agenda setting brings out only the importance of the issue, priming offers explanation on how the information from the media are stored in the human mind and how it influences in making decisions. Media affect the judgement or behavior by stimulating the associating thoughts which are caused due to the mental relationships created inside the memory.
The media effects have impact on particular aspects while ignoring the others. The prominence shown in the media for any issue becomes a major factor in creating an impact in a person’s judgement. This can cause to less concern on the more important issue. For e.g.- the news that is flashing on the headline on a television or the report coming on the front page of the newspaper are more likely to create an impact than the less prominent news coming subsequently.
Priming is used to evaluate the media effects among the people. As it is a media centred world, the studies regarding the media effects are vital. Researches are implemented applying the priming concept to understand the impact of TV programmes and violent behaviour among the viewers. Even during the elections, the campaigns are used to emphasis certain issues and how it influences the people in choosing the right candidate has been observed by applying this concept.
The media easily influence children and their behaviour can be based on the contents shown in the television. For e.g. a child tends to enact the qualities of their favourite character in movies and tend to display their characteristics.
And also the government can highlight a particular issue through the media ignoring issues which might be less or more important. For e.g. government highlight issues concerning economic development ignoring environmental issues which are equally important. As the media covers the issue primed by the government, the people are influence by the prominent news ignoring others as obscure.