In the 1920s and 1930s, The Chicago School realized studies about the prevalence of psychology in political processes, in a movement called Behaviorist Revolution.
One of the key points were addressedin the investigations, were the processes of political communication, i.e. communication understood as an influential role in politics. This perspective had its origins in two essential parts of Merriam and Gosnell movement, through his study of political marketing in election campaigns and the opinion of the masses. They wanted to show the messages that were broadcasted about politics and howthese messages leaded and took relevance in the political context.
Years later, in 1948, Harold D. Lasswell defines the field of study by proposing two paradigms, one applied to communication and other to policy, in order to observe and analyze the constituent elements and influential information. In the same way, they were doing analysis on how the messages are transmitted through the media andtheir impact on society. These arguments are grouped into the theory known as functionalism, which focus on empirical research and observations about the media role in different social levels.
Most of these studies have been focused on government systems to determine the impact it has on the masses and the consequences that these bring, and also to see the possibilities for the media to conditionthe victory of candidates of different parties, or otherwise, are the people who influence each other and determine their choice. On this hypothesis, also in the forties, Lazarsfeld realized a series of investigations about the U.S. presidential elections and concluded that the media do not have the ability to change the minds of the voting public, but only strengthen the already had with theeffort that they put on the political marketing and depending on the selectivity of individuals.
However the media doesn´t take part in the person´s criteria there is an influence, directly or indirectly, which is performed under a model called the Communication Flow in two steps.
According to this model there are some people who are more exposed to influences from the media who receive news.These persons filter and select the news and after communicate this to the rest of group. These people are called opinion leaders. They are who symbolize the union between the media and the public. This theory is based on the evidence of the existence of individuals that affect others by making them more support in his view they offer than what the media present. The opinion leader plays a dual rolein communication processes, as processes of interpretation and transmission of messages to the group.
The opinion leaders are very involved by the media and never analyze what the media says them. They only believe that all the things about the current situation which they could learn through the media are true. Then, they give their opinion to the rest of people but it is not only theiropinion, it is the opinion of the media because they can´t create their own. Finally, all the persons know which the media says but don´t know that was said by the media.
Using a sophisticated survey methodology in panel (a large sample of people interviewed on several occasions prior to the date of election). Lazarsfeld found that mass media had no influence on voters. The greatest force in thepersuasion process is conducted by opinion leaders. The observation that led to this series of studies took place in Erie County, Ohio, which witnessed the development and the impact of the presidential campaign on that site. The procedure performed was interviewed a group of 600 people who were surveyed once a month for a period of seven months. Those who formed the group were located in two levels:...