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An Experimental Exploration of Political Knowledge Acquisition from the Daily Show Versus CNN Student News


Dannagal G. Young


University of Delaware

Lindsay Hoffman


University of Delaware

2009

APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper

Abstract:     
Research in the realm of political entertainment in recent years has explored how political entertainment, and political humor in particular, might affect cognitive processing of information (Nabi, Moyer-Guse, and Bynre, 2007; Young, 2008) and learning (Cao, 2008; Hollander, 2005; Kim & Vishak, 2008). This project presents the results of an experiment completed in April 2008 (N = 293) to explore the effects of a week of exposure to on-line clips of political satire (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) and online news clips (CNN Student News) on college students' acquisition of various forms of political knowledge. Media orientations are examined as a moderator of these effects (Kosicki & McLeod, 1990). Compared to the control group, subjects exposed to CNN experienced significant gains in knowledge at Time 2. But these gains occurred in the context of current affairs knowledge, and to a lesser extent in the context of candidate knowledge. Exposure to The Daily Show was also a significant predictor of Time 2 knowledge gains, but gains were limited to current affairs knowledge. Neither experimental condition experienced increases in civics knowledge, and no significant differences in knowledge gains emerged between participants in the CNN condition and those in the Daily Show condition. Moderating effects of media orientations suggest that positive orientations towards the Daily Show enhanced learning in the Daily Show condition. Implications for research on political humor as a source of political information are discussed.

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Date posted: August 13, 2009 ; Last revised: October 1, 2009

Suggested Citation

Young, Dannagal G. and Hoffman, Lindsay, An Experimental Exploration of Political Knowledge Acquisition from the Daily Show Versus CNN Student News (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1451400

Contact Information

Dannagal G. Young (Contact Author)
University of Delaware ( email )
Newark, DE 19711
United States
Lindsay Hoffman
University of Delaware ( email )
Newark, DE 19711
United States
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