“How the Medium Shapes the Message” – Zach Coriarty

In “How the Medium Shapes the Message”, Jonah Berger and Raghuram Iyenger argue that the medium through which consumers communicate influences how they communicate. Furthermore, it is discussed how these mediums are changing communication and what each medium has in comparison to each other.

The first point made is that modality(talk vs. text) carries a lot of weight in communication due to the duration of mental processing. When talking about a textual modality, Rettie suggests, “its asynchrony provides thinking time, enabling interactants to choose their words carefully rather than responding impetuously.” This point is backed up by case study 1 because it shows that by adding a pause before speaking, people tend to talk about more interesting concepts. A second point made indicates that how you present yourself changes the way communication is done. This was testing by telling participants that their personalities will be evaluated after each conversation. The results of this showed that oral participants did not enhance their personality, but written participants did by nearly 20%.

The argument made in this paper does seem to have a very valid base, however; the number of participants, 186, is concerning because 186 people are not enough to back up the results made in the paper. Aside from this, the design of the studies was well thought out and the results were well-argued against from multiple perspectives, which make them have a higher degree of robustness and is helpful given the low participant amount. One aspect that wasn’t considered, however, had to do with the demographics of the participants which is important to touch on given the low amount because it helps address bias in the set, for example, if half the group had to write and talk in a non-native language, then the results would certainly be skewed.

2 thoughts on ““How the Medium Shapes the Message” – Zach Coriarty

  1. Zach, I personally didn’t read this article, but I think our two connect well together. The discussion you focus on about modality really grasped me and is one that I have not previously thought about. In the video I watched, the main concept that is discussed is how the medium determines how the message is communicated. Contrarily in this article, Berger and Lyenger focus on how one’s presentation of themself changes the way one communicates, rather than the medium changing what is communicated. As you mention in the last paragraph, there is not a significant number of participants represented in the study, however, I think the concept behind the research is very intriguing and one that should be considered more. If comparing and contrasting the medium vs. one’s presentation of themself when looking at social media platforms, I think a lot of interesting overlap would be found that could allow us to better understand the patterns behind one’s social media presence.

  2. I agree that authors did very good jobs in arguing and supporting their statements. The implication part is really memorable. They discuss some oral communication situations where interest matters, such as dating and looking for a job, and I think that is an excellent extension of the findings. Also, the marketing implications part provides a lot of enlightening ideas to me. You have mentioned the non-native language part, and I think that is an interesting idea. However, since I have took part in a lot of psychology experiments, I believe before the experiment, people would clearly check the background information and try to avoid any disturbing factor.

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