This monograph examines the history of the “suggestion doctrine,” a theory of communicative influence that arose in social psychology at the turn of the 20th century and was applied to the study of media effects before World War II. During that period, suggestion theory was one of the foremost psychological explanations of opinion change and a dominant theory of media influence. Despite its long prominence in early social science and media studies, the doctrine has been largely ignored in contemporary histories of mass communication research. Although writers debate the origins and nature of early media effects scholarship, few of the contending parties address the role of the suggestion doctrine, and those who do offer but a passing reference. My purpose here, therefore, is to recover an important but forgotten part of the intellectual history of the field.
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