Full Text

Social Perception: Impersonal Impact

Patricia Moy


According to the impersonal impact hypothesis, the mass media influence individuals' perceptions of risk to others (societal-level risk), but not perceptions of risk to themselves (personal risk; →  Risk Perceptions ). Implicit in this hypothesis is the notion that individuals can compartmentalize various perceptions of risk, differentiating between societal-level judgments, or beliefs about the larger community with respect to a given risk, and personal-level judgments, or estimations of their own vulnerability to that risk ( Tyler & Cook 1984 ). Although the disjuncture between first and third persons in impersonal impact also is seen in the →  third-person effect , two key points are noteworthy. Not only is the perceived risk in the third-person effect the media message itself, but also, unlike the impersonal impact hypothesis, the third-person effect does not require consumption of the media message. Indeed, the third-person effect posits that people believe media to have greater effects on others than on themselves ( Davison 1983 ). Impersonal impact also is conceptually distinct from impersonal influence , a term Mutz (1998) used to describe how anonymous others and individuals outside one's immediate life-space can influence one's attitudes, cognitions, and behaviors. Within this domain of research, the media's role is as a conduit of information regarding others' ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

International Encyclopedia of Communication Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top