Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version


Publication Source

American Sociological Review





Start Page


Last Page



The mass media are ranked with respect to their perceived helpfulness in satisfying clusters of needs arising from social roles and individual dispositions. For example, integration into the sociopolitical order is best served by newspaper; while "knowing oneself" is best served by books. Cinema and books are more helpful as means of "escape" than is television. Primary relations, holidays and other cultural activities are often more important than the mass media in satisfying needs.

Television is the least specialized medium, serving many different personal and political needs. The "interchangeability" of the media over a variety of functions orders televisions, radio, newspapers, books, and cinema in a circumplex. We speculate about which attributes of the media explain the social and psychological needs they serve best. The data, drawn from an Israeli survey, are presented as a basis for cross-cultural comparison.

Copyright/Permission Statement

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, American Sociological Review, Vol. 38, 1973. © American Sociological Association, 1973.

Included in

Communication Commons



Date Posted: 19 April 2011

This document has been peer reviewed.