Table of Contents

General Contexts

Intrapersonal Communication (Persuasion)

Interpersonal Communication

Small Group Communication

Organizational Communication

Intercultural Communication

Mass Communication

Applied Contexts

Health Communication

Instructional Communication

Honors Capstone Home Page

Last updated February 19, 2001


Click Here to Go Back to Mass Communication Context Page


Explanation of Theory:

In the Diffusion Innovation theory, communicators in society with a message influence/encourage people that have strong opinions through the media to influence the masses.

Theorists: P. Lazarsfeld, B. Berelson, and H. Gaudet

Date:  1944

Primary Article:

     Lazarsfeld, P., Berelson, B., Gaudet, H. (1944) "The People's Choice." New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce.

Metatheoretical Assumptions:

Ontological Assumption:
There does not seem to be free will in this case, it is fated as to what information is received to the masses, they have no choice to what they are exposed to.

Epistemological Assumption:
In this sense, the theory is scientific.  There is one truth, dependent on the messages sent and received by the media and the opinion leaders.

Axiological Assumption:
I feel that Diffusion of Innovations is scientific in the values sense as well.  Research being done is value neutral and not biased because what is stated is pretty much how the news is run.  The masses are fed what information is important.


I think the Diffusion of Innovations does a good job of explaining how ideas are spread and is accurate in its conclusions.

Ideas and Implications:

The Diffusion of Innovations is useful to apply in situations when trying to explain how ideas are spread through our society from the media.


An applicable example to help illustrate Diffusion of Innovations involves Christmas time specials on TV programming.  These programs on harmful/popular toys influence either the opinion of and/or the decision of whether to purchase a specific toy to many shoppers.

Relevant Research:

      Parcel, G.S., Vries, H., Dijkstra, M. (1993). "The linkage approach applied to a school-based smoking prevention program in the Netherlands." Journal of Health.

      Pandey, S., Yadama, G.N. (1992). "Community development programs in Nepal: a test of diffusion of innovation theory." Social Service Review.

      Mahajon, V., Muller, E., Srivastava, R.K. (1990). "Determination of adopter categories by using innovation diffusion models." Journal of Marketing Research

Location in Eight (8) Primary Communication Theory Textbooks:

     Anderson, R., & Ross, V. (1998). Questions of communication: A practical introduction to theory (2nd ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press.  N/A

     Cragan, J. F., & Shields, D.C. (1998). Understanding communication theory: The communicative forces for human action. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. pp. 10, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 27, 33, 175-207, 310, 311

     Griffin, E. (2000). A first look at communication theory (4th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill. pp. N/A

     Griffin, E. (1997). A first look at communication theory (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 374.

      Infante, D. A., Rancer, A. S., & Womack, D. F. (1997). Building communication theory (3rd ed.). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. pp. 362-363.

      Littlejohn, S. W. (1999). Theories of human communication (6th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. pp. 341

      West, R., & Turner, L. H. (2000). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. N/A

       Wood, J. T. (1997). Communication theories in action: An introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. N/A.