Finally, an understanding of the fundamental belief systems of journalists should be a more valid means of understanding their biases and behavior than would an understanding of their socio-politico orientations. The same should be true of media consumers.) The growing body of research on perception and belief systems seems to be concluding that man constantly strives for cognitive balance as he views and communicates about the world, and that man will select and rely upon information consistent with his basic perceptions. This holds true for the journalist as well as the journalist's audience. To do otherwise runs contrary to an apparently basic human need, which helps explain why open-mindedness is an elusive objective for the journalist. A recent Journalism Quarterly study by Donohew and Palmgreen, for instance, showed that open-minded journalists underwent a great deal of stress when having to report information they weren't inclined to believe or agree with, because the open-minded journalists' self- concepts demanded that they fairly evaluate all issues. Closed-minded journalists, on the other hand, underwent much less stress because it was easy for them to make snap decisions consistent with their basic world views, especially since they were inclined to go along with whatever information was given to them by authority figures. (Winter, 1971, "An Investigation of 'Mechanisms' of Information Selection,") In short, it appears to be far more difficult and stressful for both journalists and media consumers to keep their pluralistic orientations. What Donohew and Palmgreen seem to be telling journalists is that if they are not undergoing any mental stress, it may be that they aren't opening their minds long enough to allow belief discrepant information to enter. And, one might imagine, the same holds true for audiences. If they don't undergo some 'mental' strain upon reading their daily papers or viewing their television news or listening to their radio news or reading their weekly newsmagazine, it may be that they are closing their 'minds'. This is not to say that stress and strain in and of themselves make for open-minded media behavior. They may just make for confusion, and result from confusion. But if journalists and news audiences never find themselves concerned over contradictory information, facts that don't add up, opinions that don't cause them to stop and think, then they are behaving as Hohenberg's and Seldes' closed-minded journalists and members of the public, and as purveyors and passive receivers of propaganda.
Most of the empirical findings of belief systems researchers are entirely consistent with the body of knowledge referred to as 'general semantics', as both study how people perceive the world and how they subsequently communicate their perceptions or misperceptions. Recent empirical studies of semantic behavior have begun to validate many of Alfred Korzybski's original statements (Science and Sanity, 1933) that unscientific or "Aristotelian" assumptions about language and reality result in semantically inadequate or inappropriate behavior. Studies of children and adults trained in general semantics principles have demonstrated that semantic awareness results in such diverse achievements as improved perceptual, speaking, reading, and writing skills (Berger, Glorfield, Haney, Livingston, Ralph, True, Weaver, Weiss, Westover), generalized intelligence (Haney, Steele), decreased prejudice (John Black), decreased dogmatism (J . J . Black, Goldberg), and decreased rigidity (J .J. Black). These studies offer substantive refutation to early criticisms of general semantics as an overly-generalized and pedantic system of gross assumptions about language behavior. From the studies emerges a series of semantic patterns typifying the semantically 'sane' or 'un-sane' individual, patterns reflective of Rokeach's typologies of the open-minded or closed-minded individual and of propaganda analysts' descriptions of the non-propagandistic or propagandistic individual.
Highlighting general semanticists' descriptions of 'sane' language behavior are such concepts as 1) awareness that our language is not our reality, but is an inevitably imperfect abstraction of that reality, and that tendencies to equate language and reality (through the use of the verb "to be" as an equal sign) are setting up false-to-fact relationships. This is seen in the "intensional 'is-of-identity', "and is to be replaced by "extensionalized" analysis and description of reality as we perceive it; 2) awareness that the use of "to be" to describe something usually tells more about the observer projecting his bias than it does about the object described. This is seen as the"intensional 'is-of-predication"' and is to be replaced by "extensionalized" awareness of our projections; 3) awareness that people and situations have unlimited characteristics, that the world is in a constant process of change, that our perceptions are limited and that our language cannot say all there is to be said about a person or situation. This is seen in attempts to replace a dogmatic "allness orientation" with a multi-valued orientation that recognizes the "etc.," or the fact that there is always more to be seen and observed and described than we are capable of seeing, observing, or describing; 4) awareness that a fact is not an inference and an inference is not a value judgment, and subsequent awareness that receivers of our communications need to be told the differences; 5) awareness that different people will perceive the world differently, and we should accept authority figures', sources', and witnesses' viewpoints as being the result of imperfect human perceptual processes, and not as absolute truth, and 6) awareness that persons and situations are rarely if ever two-valued; that propositions do not have to be either 'true' or 'false', specified ways of behaving do not have to be either 'right' or 'wrong', 'black' or 'white', that continuum-thinking or an infinite-valued orientation is a more valid way to perceive the world than an Aristotelian two-valued orientation. (I would append this with the notion that William James proffered - "The Truth is what the future proves it to be")