The shaping of cognition: How a rural audience understood agrarian reform

Lulu Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A probability sample of 250 adults in the Philippines' Central Luzon region responded to in- depth personal interviews asking about how they perceived the country's agrarian reform program. The open-ended answers were coded to reflect two concepts: (1) cognitive complexity or the richness of people's free responses which mirrors the degree with which individuals thought about the issue and employed multiple perspectives in thinking about it, and (2) the use of frames of reference or mental categories which represent an individual's attempt to organize and manage the complicated information involved in this issue. The findings indicate that the effects of the mass media on what people learn about this topic go well beyond memory for discrete facts. The impact is more on the way the audience structures and thinks about issues. Moreover, results show that a rural population can be substantially engaged cognitively, and that such engagement functions independently of such factors as education and socioeconomic status. These structural variables may operate indirectly via choice of media and patterns of media use and information processing strategies. They may be necessary, but not sufficient, conditions for the integrated understanding of public issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-319
Number of pages21
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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