The influence of presumed influence

Albert C. Gunther, J. Douglas Storey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

319 Scopus citations


Although direct influences of media have been the primary focus of mass communication research, recent theoretical developments have suggested powerful and important indirect effects as well. Derived from the third-person effect hypothesis and related research, but describing a broader range of phenomena, the indirect effects model proposes that people (a) perceive some effect of a message on others and then (b) react to that perception. We call this model the influence of presumed influence. The general model was tested with evaluation data from a maternal health campaign in Nepal. A key aspect of the campaign was a serial radio drama directed at clinic health workers. Results showed, however, that many women in the general population also listened to the serial. The program had no direct positive influence on this population, but we found a significant indirect influence on their attitudes and reported behaviors when mediated by their perceptions of impact on the target population of clinic health workers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-215
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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