Efficacy of using attribution analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of media communications in an industrial setting.

Yacher, Sherman Louis, Ed.D., University of Kansas, 1995.


Problem. There are few quantitative evaluations of media communications in industrial settings. Industry needs quantitative evaluation of media communications that measure the cost benefits of training.

Lord and Maher suggest using Attribution Analysis to evaluate media communications in industrial settings. Attribution analysis states that if media are found to be clear, distinct, consistent over time, consistent over modality, and if there is consensus among the respondents about these characteristics, the media will communicate information and the subjects will view the media positively.

Method. Two studies were conducted, in 1991 and 1992, using 300 randomly selected subjects, employees of AlliedSignal General Aviation Avionics, who were administered questionnaires on the attribution characteristics of the media, the article types (e.g. puzzle, funny story, cartoon), asked to apply a dollar-value rating to the print media, and supply open-ended comments. The media included one newspaper, Wavelengths, two newsletters, Wavelengths Update and TQ Update, and a TV show, Newsbreak. Items such as, "I like Professor Whizdom and the Brain Busters in Wavelengths," were part of the questionnaire. Items in the questionnaire were rated on a six point "agree-disagree" Likert scale, with "1" being strongly agree and "6" being strongly disagree.

Results. The Likert scale responses had high reliabilities, and the attribution items scaled well, using principal components factor analysis, on the various media. Seven factors emerged in the 1992 study. All the article types were highly rated (M = 1.95) and the mean dollar amounts assigned to the print media (M = $.36) indicated that the media were cost effective. Furthermore, the ratings were consistent across employee status and employee location. The majority of employee comments towards the media were constructive with very few negative comments.

Conclusions. Results of the studies demonstrate that Attribution Analysis is an effective means for evaluating communication media in industrial settings. The key factors that impact the success of communication media are: Clearness, distinctiness, consistency over time, consistency of modality, and consensus about these factors. Print media that have the attributional characteristics get high dollar values. Industrial employees' highest preference is for articles on "News About People," and "Anniversaries and Retirements."