The Media and the “Construction” of “Mental Maps”: The Relationship with the Individual, Institutional and Disciplinary Homogenization among University graduates in the Light of a Systemic Theory

A mental map represents a person’s perception of their surroundings. Our brains subconsciously create mental maps to help us understand what our environment looks like and how to interact with the elements and objects within it. Mental maps are subjective—different people will have different mental maps of the same space, with variations stemming from their experiences, biases, and assumptions. You can even make a mental map of a place you’ve never been before. It may not be entirely accurate from a geographic or spatial perspective, but it’ll reveal insights into your background knowledge and assumptions about the space. The hypothesis of “agenda-setting” is one of several hypotheses examined in this study that are part of the psychosocial-communicational paradigm, which stresses the long-term cognitive impacts of media and the role of the psychosocial subject as the recipient. Additionally, it complies with the author’s latest systemic theory, “The Three Dimensional Spiral of Sense,” as it pertains to the media. It is the first research of its kind in the region. Macro-micro-meso-macro-micro was the strategy, which is still uncommon. It is a sort of sui generis systemism that incorporates connections (links and feedback) between people and settings without ignoring either, hence avoiding any form of reductionism. It consists of a kind of sui generis systemism which includes relationships (links and feedback) between individuals and contexts, without overlooking neither the former nor the latter; thus, avoiding any type of reductionism. Individuals, organizations and macro-contexts interplay and feedback themselves. The four main objectives were: a) to elucidate the cognitive effects of the media in university graduates; b) to detect levels of manipulation and homogenization of their “mental maps”; c) to ascertain the personality factors that condition differential receptivity (“Filtering” of the news) (151 variables); d) to determine the degree of impact and incidence of the press in the public’s mental patterns and in the university graduates identities; e) to analyze the relation between institutional ideology, political ideology and media choice graduates make (traditional versus more progressive media); in other words, the level  of meso, macro and micro interplay. The sample was made up of (N=516) graduates from Cuyo University (Argentina). Quanti-qualitative techniques were complemented: semi-structured survey and interviews. The results show: a) a high level of influence of the media on the problems which have been prioritized by graduates; b) a high level of coincidence of the topics prioritized by Faculties (prevailing “ideologies”); c) individual and institutional homogenization which influenced by a macro context of homogenization of the news and the globalization. All these aspects impact on institutional and individual identities. In essence, the incidence of psychology and education in the differential construction of “cognitive maps” was confirmed as well as the stronger incidence of the press as regards the impact caused by news and the mental homogenization.

Author(s) Details:

Miriam Aparicio,
National Council of Scientific Research (CONICET) – National University of Cuyo, Argentina.

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Keywords: Identity, homogenization, media, systemic theory, university graduates, psychology, communication, sociology

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