Information Processing Theory of Media

We attend to information that enters our senses in a highly structured and systematic way. Information processing theory focuses on these processes and the way they help us construct an understanding of the world. Media, especially modern multimedia technology, can harness this understanding of our cognitive systems to deliver its message effectively and with a high degree of success.

What is the Information Processing Theory?

Information processing theory is a psychological theory that explains how the human brain receives, processes, stores, and retrieves information. It is based on the idea that the brain is like a computer, with different stages of processing that occur linearly. According to this theory, information enters the brain through the senses, such as sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Various cognitive processes process this information, including perception, attention, and memory.

What is the Influence of This Theory on Media?

The information processing theory of media is a perspective that sees media as a tool for processing and organizing information in our minds. According to this theory, media serves as a way for individuals to make sense of the world around them by providing a framework for organizing and interpreting information. The following are some ways it can influence the creation and consumption of media.

Media Influence as a “Scaffold”

The concept of scaffolding emerged with the revolutionary theory of psychological development by Lev Vygotsky, where it was discussed as an educational technique. One key aspect of the information processing theory is that media serves as a "scaffold" for learning and cognition. Just as a scaffold provides a structure for building a physical structure, media provides a structure for organizing and understanding new information.

This can be especially important for complex or abstract concepts, as media can provide a way to break them down and make them more accessible. Educational media can temporarily support a learner as they work to complete a task or learn a new concept. The goal of scaffolding is to help the learner build on their existing knowledge and skills and to gradually decrease the level of support as the learner becomes more proficient. For example, a teacher might use a video to demonstrate a concept or an infographic to help visualize a process.

Media as Shaping Perceptions and Attitudes

Another important aspect of the information processing theory is that media can shape our perceptions and attitudes. Media can influence how we think about and understand the world by presenting information in a certain way. This can be especially true for news media, which can shape our views on current events and issues. Media can play a powerful role in shaping perceptions and attitudes. The information and messages that we receive through media can influence our beliefs, values, and behavior.

For example, media coverage of events or issues can shape our understanding and attitudes toward them. If the media presents a particular perspective on an issue, it can influence how we view it and the actions we take in response to it. Media can also shape our attitudes and perceptions by presenting certain images and messages as the norm or standard. For example, media representation of body image, gender roles, and diversity can influence our beliefs about what is acceptable or desirable.

Media Used As a Memory Aid

Memory and media creation are closely related, as media can significantly impact how we remember and recall information. Media can affect memory by providing a more engaging or interactive way to learn new information. When we actively engage with media, such as watching a video or participating in a game, we are more likely to pay attention to the presented information and remember it. Media can also serve as a "memory aid," helping us to recall information that we have previously learned. For example, reading a textbook and watching a video on the same topic may help us better understand and remember the material.

In addition, media can influence our memories by shaping how we perceive and interpret events. For example, if we see a news report about a political event, our memory of that event may be influenced by the perspective and biases of the news outlet. Overall, media can be a powerful tool for enhancing memory and learning. However, it is important to critically evaluate the information and messages we receive through media and consider their potential impact on our memories.

Media as a Tool for Learning

Media can be a powerful tool for learning, as it allows learners to engage with the material in multiple ways and can make abstract concepts more concrete.

Many media types can be used for learning, including text, images, audio, and video. Texts, such as books and articles, can provide detailed information and explanations on various topics. Images, such as photographs and diagrams, can help learners to visualize concepts and understand complex processes. Audio, such as lectures and podcasts, can provide information in an easy-to-digest format and be accessed on the go.

Video, such as documentaries and online courses, can provide a rich, interactive learning experience. Media can be particularly useful in education as it allows learners to engage with the material in various ways and at their own pace. For example, learners who prefer visual learning may benefit from watching a video or infographic. In contrast, a learner who prefers hands-on learning may benefit from participating in a virtual lab or simulation.


The information processing theory suggests that media plays a crucial role in making sense of and interacting with the world around us. By providing a framework for organizing and interpreting information, media helps us to understand and navigate the complex world in which we live.

Updated on: 09-Feb-2023


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