gratification theory, first identified in the 1940s by Lazarsfeld
and Stanton (1944), attempts to explain why mass media is used and
the types of gratification that media generates. Gratification is
a reward or satisfaction obtained by an individual. The theory relies
on the belief that the audience is not merely a group of passive
media consumers, but that they play an active role in selecting
different media to meet their needs (Infante, Rancer & Womack,
1997; Lowery & De Fleur, 1983). The theory was further developed
in the late 1950s and early 1960s when researchers realized that
traditional effects theories did not adequately explain how the
audience reacts to mass media (Blumler, 1979; Swanson, 1979).
states that there are two underlying presumptions of the uses and
gratifications model. First, researchers need to understand audience
needs and motives for using mass media in order to comprehend the
effects of the media. Second, understanding audience consumption
patterns will enhance understanding of media effects. Rubin (1986)
also believes uses and gratifications research will be best served
by continuing to explore and explain the specific links among attitudes,
motives, behavior, and communication effects.
The uses and
gratifications theory can be applied to the relationship between
Public Affairs officers and the media. Mass media is a tool employed
to obtain information, entertainment, and communicate a message
or story. Public Affairs personnel work daily with the mass media
in order to tell the military story. Commanders must believe that
the mass media is a useful tool to them, or they will provide less
support for Public Affairs. The underlying principle of this theory
is that if commanders perceived that there were viable operational
uses of Public Affairs and that gratification could result from
Public Affairs efforts (either personal gratification or unit/base
gratification), then they would be more likely to adopt pro-Public
Affairs attitudes. Ideally, commanders would begin to use Public
Affairs professionals and the media in order to communicate the
command message and tell the military story.
uses and gratifications perspective has potentially significant
benefits for advertisers, television network executives, and politicians.
If they can identify the form and the content that satisfies the
needs of their customers, they have a dependable vehicle for successfully
communicating persuasive messages. Similarly, Public Affairs personnel
who can convey the importance of the mass media are more likely
to educate their commanders about the potential uses and rewards
of implementing Public Affairs programs.
One of the typical
signs of a non-supportive leader is the lack of meaningful, two-way
communication between leader and subordinate. Fisher and Ellis (1990)
state that effective leaders exhibit flexible communicative skills.
These leaders adjust their communicative behaviors and interpersonal
relationships according to the situation and the nature of their
subordinates. Fisher and Ellis (1990) reference several studies,
which show that when leaders are working with motivated, competent
workers, they are more likely to exhibit consideration and respect
for them; they also involve the workers in more decision-making
and provide a less structured environment.
Harris and Sherblom
(1999) state that at least three characteristics are expected of
a leader. These characteristics are vision, credibility and communication
competence. Leaders must maintain the overall command vision while
moving the group toward that vision. This involves planning long
and short-term goals, focusing attention, managing conflict, and
empowering others to help the creative process.
Harris and Sherblom (1999) state that leaders must inspire the groupís
trust and confidence in their ability. The authors define credibility
as knowledge, expertise, honesty and the ability to remain calm
under stress. In addition, leaders must be likable and show interest
in others. Leaders without credibility are usually perceived as
manipulative or dishonest and will have a harder time gaining compliance
from their subordinates.
competence is defined as the ability to translate relevant knowledge,
skills, and situationally appropriate behavior in a way that subordinates
can understand and trust. It also is defined as the ability to manage
ambiguity and uncertainty in their operational environment, and
when to reduce or heighten uncertainty (Harris and Sherblom, 1999).
officers view Public Affairs personnel as necessary evils that must
be tolerated, while some commanders see the media as an enemy that
cannot be trusted. This perception is due to a commander who sees
no value in dealing with Public Affairs personnel or the media.
Public Affairs personnel must try to provide the commander with
guidance on public affairs programs.
Drake and Moberg
(1986) state that content does not drive influence or compliance
as much as effective communication. Influencers who use language
that violate power and social expectations will find it harder to
achieve their goals even with adequate inducements. In contrast,
using language that persuades receivers into compliance when the
inducements are not good enough or certain linguistic forms can
sedate a target into automatic compliance responses (Drake and Moberg,
describes the leader-member exchange theory as having subordinate
relationships embedded in groups, and that these groups are not
equivalent. Two specific groups are defined as in-groups and out-groups.
The in-group enjoys greater work-related support and responsiveness
from supervisors and handles more administering activities and has
greater communication with superiors. The out-group develops more
formal and restrictive relationships with supervisors and performs
only routine tasks. Because some commanders may not view Public
Affairs as an operational aspect of their command, they could view
Public Affairs as an out-group.
outlines the expectancy value theory as a choice-making process
in which people set goals that they perceive as realistic, attainable
and desirable. The author stresses that people will first calculate
the expectancy or the amount of confidence they have that certain
behaviors will be followed by a certain outcome. Secondly, people
will calculate the valance, or degree of postivity or negativity,
of their view of whether they achieved the desired outcome. The
final calculation people will make is the instrumentality, or the
belief that if they go to the trouble, the desired outcome will
come about (Barge, 1994).
notes that while expectancy value theory explains why people base
their decision-making in order to maximize their gains, the theory
does not completely account for all types of behavior. Barge (1994)
says the theory falls short when the number of possible outcomes
becomes too taxing for our cognitive ability to calculate. In addition,
the theory's valance considerations can not always explain why some
people pursue goals with negative consequences (Barge, 1994). To
apply this theory to a non-supportive situation, we must consider
limiting the number of variables, strong positive valance, and an
attainable desired outcome. If the commander sees value for the
effort, odds of gaining compliance and support are increased.
The lack of
support from leadership within a unit, organization or group can
ultimately result in poorer subordinate performance, failure to
meet or inadequately meet goals, and drops in subordinate morale
and expectations. Nebecker and Mitchell (1974) studied the value
expectancy theory as it applies to leadership behavior and subordinate
expectations of that behavior. The authors argue that the value
expectancy theory -- the perceived expectation that a behavior is
related to the attainment of outcomes weighted by the evaluation
of these outcomes -- can be used to help predict leadership behavior.
Furthermore, the authors argue that leadership behavior can facilitate
or block the attempts of subordinates to reach their work-related
goals (Nebecker & Mitchell, 1974).