Crigler, A.N., Just, M., & Neuman, W.R. (1994). Interpreting visual versus audio messages in television news. Journal of communication, 44(4), 132-149.
This research assessed the impact of audio, visual, and audiovisual television news messages in promoting learning, and understanding political messages. According to Crigler, Just, and Neuman (1994), the underlying question is, “do the pictures speak for themselves, or do verbal messages hold the key to increased retention of and personal attachment to stories about political issues?” Results from this study suggest audio narrative by itself carried the greatest percentage of the message, enhanced learning, and enabled understanding of the issues equally well as an audiovisual presentation. However, audiovisual messages produced the strongest emotional impact.
This article provided very informative and helpful background on studies conducted to assess the effects of audio and video. In summarizing the findings of a number of studies, the article indicated no one medium (print, audio, and audiovisual) has a clear advantage in its ability to persuade, inform, or create emotional responses. Rather, a large body of research indicates “the effectiveness of the medium depended in complex and conflicting ways on the characteristics of the communicator, the message, the situation, and the audience member” (Crigler, Just, & Neuman, 2004). The variation in medium effectiveness is demonstrated in Table 1, which gives an overview of the findings by McGuire’s (1969, 1985) studies on the persuasive effects of identical messages in different media.
Table 1 – Overview of persuasive effects of media, McGuire (1969, 1985)
More effective when:
Less effective when:
|Speakers characterized as highly credible||Speakers with less credibility|
||Speakers with less credibility|
|(more effective than video) when audience members have high cognitive ability||(less effective than video) when audience members have low cognitive ability|
|Vivid, concrete visuals associated with increase recall, and in some cases with greater retention of the story as a whole||(Intervening variable-Relevance) Issues that are less relevant|
|Images that reinforce the message||Images that contrast with the message|
|Illustrating causes & consequences improved retention of message||Pictures of people and places improved recall of people and places, but not the message|
|Close up views of people are most memorable, stir emotions, hold attention|
|(effectiveness of visuals also affected by repetition and length of story)|
This information may be potentially helpful in the development of effective instructional media, provided there is adequate analysis of the target audience to inform the development process.
While the review of research findings on the persuasive effects of media may be very helpful, I was most intrigued by the results of the authors’ research. Their findings clearly demonstrated the audio channel carries the bulk of the information in an audiovisual study. Further, results indicated the amount of learning was essentially the same for the audio only messages and the audiovisual messages. Audiovisual messages were found to be less consistently effective, depending on the way visuals were used to support the narrative audio. Audiovisuals organized in a logical sequence following the narrative significantly enhanced learning and recall. Audiovisuals presenting images as illustrations, without a logical sequence were far less effective in promoting learning and recall. The surprising bottom line was that audio alone provided the same level of cognitive satisfaction compared to audiovisual news story, and the information content delivered via audio comprised the majority of the information remembered by participants.
News stories are not lectures, and professors are not professional news anchor persons. Nevertheless, I find some encouraging implications regarding the use of podcasting and recorded audio as an effective teaching and learning tool.
- These findings support many earlier studies indicating recorded audio narrative is an effective medium for communicating information.
- Whether the delivery system is educational podcasting or audio cassettes may be less important than the quality and relevance of the audio recording.
- Audio leads video. That is, the video track must logically follow the audio track to be most effective.
- If audio does communicate the majority of information in a recorded story, it may be less important in some contexts (and therefore less expensive) to produce effective educational podcasts and audio recordings.
Perhaps this just shows the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” may not always be true.
Reviewer: –Randy Meredith 20:14, 26 Nov 2005 (EST)