T.V. Channel Changing: Choice, Attention, and Reception in Political Communication Research

30 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2008

See all articles by Kevin Arceneaux

Kevin Arceneaux

Temple University - Department of Political Science

Martin Johnson

University of California, Riverside - Department of Political Science

Abstract

Experimental political communication research focuses on understanding media effects given reception. Theoretically, persuasion is a function of the probability an individual receives a given communication and their probability of yielding to what is received. We investigate the implications of choice - agency - for the effects of televised political information. We conduct a pilot investigation, revisiting the new Videomalaise hypothesis (Mutz and Reeves 2005), which asserts televised incivility reduces trust in officials. Our experimental design allows subjects in one treatment group to change the channel, giving them the option to watch rancorous political debate or something else. The availability of alternatives to political information mutes its effects via at least two mechanisms - Individuals who choose to watch political television programs have higher levels of experience with politics and thus more stable political orientations, while people who choose not to watch do not see the stimulus in question. We also find media effects that are stable across the choice and forced-exposure treatments. Our study is of particular significance for understanding the generalizablity of experimental political communication research.

JEL Classification: C90

Suggested Citation

Arceneaux, Kevin and Johnson, Martin, T.V. Channel Changing: Choice, Attention, and Reception in Political Communication Research. Experiments in Political Science 2008 Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1301769 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1301769

Kevin Arceneaux (Contact Author)

Temple University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Martin Johnson

University of California, Riverside - Department of Political Science ( email )

Riverside, CA 92521
United States

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