In “Theorizing Interactivity’s Effects”, Sundar both explains and asserts the point that interactivity within the media has behavioral, attitudinal, and cognitive effects. These impacts are both positive and negative, however, through the data provided in the article, one can deduce that primarily there are negative impacts from the power of interactivity.
Those who study media became very interested in this idea of interactivity because of the impacts it has on the human brain, similar to the idea that the “medium is the message”, our interactions with computers are actually communicative with the medium rather than the content the computer is spewing. It goes without saying that interaction is an automatic consequence of using the media as it takes one of two forms: computer-human interaction or human-human interaction with the barrier of a computer. However, oftentimes these interactions are not consciously processed and further, unwanted by the user. For example, advertisements, specifically pop-up advertisements, jump out at the user, and cause a distraction in the form of a stimulus overload. This then causes negative cognitive reactions while tarnishing the productivity of the user. Although this is beneficial for the company producing these advertisements, the user becomes frustrated resulting in a worsened attitude.
There are positive impacts from interactivity, such as the computer providing animation which can result in a superior mood, however Sundar says that “an abundance could lead to over stimulation and a negative evaluation”. Interactivity’s impact on cognition is significant as it is directly related to the brain’s processing systems, whether conscious or unconscious. The media’s influence on the brain can be beyond the scope of our awareness as it is able to “trigger automatic processing which is outside the conscious control of the receiver”.
The interactions amongst humans and their computers provide a false illusion of human presence which can tarnish real-life socializing. The impacts of media in terms of interactivity do provide some benefits, however, through this article it becomes clear that humans are impressionable and malleable to the medium in which they interact with.