Active & Passive Audience Differences & Example: Active Audience Theory

Active & Passive Audience Differences & Example: Active Audience Theory. What is Active and Passive Audience? What is the Active Audience Theory?  The difference between an active and passive audience? Example of Active and Passive Audiences.

Table of Contents:

  1. Active & Passive Audience.
  2. What is the difference between an active and passive audience?
  3. Example of Active and Passive Audiences.
  4. What is the Active Audience Theory?
  1. Active & Passive Audience:

Active audiences: Active audiences are those people who receive information actively as well as make sense of the messages from the perspective of their social and personal contexts. These audiences perform it unintentionally.

Passive Audience: Passive Audiences are those people who watch and observe the program simply without making sense. Passive audiences are recognized as inactive receivers.

For example, Low motivation to process information

Low ability to process information

Focuses on simple cues (e.g., appearances instead of content)

2. What is the difference between an active and passive audience?

Active Audiences Passive Audiences
Interpret and respond to the media texts Merely observe the media text
Actively involved with decoding message Just accept the message without challenging
Forming opinions Accepting opinions
Paying full attention Paying little attention
For example, playing a game. For example, watching a game.
Not directly affected by the message Directly affected by the message
Difficult to manipulate them Easy to manipulate them.
Critical thinker Cognitive miser
Have good schemata Lazy to think

3. Example of Active and Passive Audiences:

Active audiences: Complicated and Critical thinker who has good schemata

Passive audiences: Merely observer and cognitive miser who are lazy to think.


5. What is the Active Audience Theory? According to Wikipedia

Active audience theory argues that media audiences do not just receive information passively but are actively involved, often unconsciously, in making sense of the message within their personal and social contexts.

Decoding a media message may, therefore, be influenced by such things as family background, beliefs, values, culture, interests, education and experiences. Other theories and models are compatible with active audience theory, including the Encoding/Decoding model and the Uses and gratifications theory, which states that audiences are actively involved in determining what media they engage with and how in order to gratify specific needs or desires.

The Mass media article refers to a Culturalist theory, however, there is little evidence of its use in relation to (mass) media. Active audience theory is seen as a direct contrast to the Effects traditions, however, Jenny Kitzinger argues against discounting the effect or influence media can have on an audience, acknowledging that an active audience does not mean that media effect or influence is not possible. Supporting this view, other theories combine the concepts of active audience theory and the effects model, such as the two-step flow theory where Katz and Lazarsfeld argue that persuasive media texts are filtered through opinion leaders who are in a position to ‘influence’ the targeted audience through social networks and peer groups.


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