Political Communication 2017 Abstracts

The Influence of Source-Expected and Unexpected Advocacy on Thoughts and Attitude Change in Dual Frames • Joe Abisaid, University of Detroit Mercy; Doug McLeod • This study investigates how source-expected and source-unexpected advocacy within dual frames influences cognitive responses and attitude change. A web-based experiment was conducted with a 2 (message frame: scientific progress vs. animal welfare) x 2 (advocating source: proponent vs. opponent) between subjects factorial research design with primate testing as the experimental message stimulus in the news story. The findings show that source-expected and source-unexpected advocacy within frame did not result in any significant difference in attitude change but that primate testing supporters and opponents processed source-unexpected message advocacy differently leading primate testing opponents to experience higher rates of attitude change.

Raising Political APPtitude: Examining the influence of mobile platforms on offline, online and social media participation • Heloisa Aruth Sturm, University of Texas at Austin; Ori Tenenboim, The University of Texas at Austin; Danielle Kilgo, University of Texas at Austin; Thomas Johnson • This study examines the influence of mobile news platforms and applications have on political participation. Mobile news was the strongest platform predictor of offline, online and social media participation. Among ways to access mobile news, news apps and Snapchat were the strongest indicators of political participation. Direct effects were stronger predictors than the differential effects of age (Millennials vs. other age groups) and political socialization.

Impacts of television humor on viewers’ engagement, attitudes, and memory. • Nafida Banu, University of Oklahoma; Glenn Leshner, University of Oklahoma • This study explores the impact of late-night television humor on viewers’ engagement, attitudes, and memory. Impact of humor is tested with a two condition (high satire and low satire) between-subject design on the topic of 2016 Presidential debates. This study suggest that late-night television humor had negative effects on audience engagement with the video and memory of the premise of a given experimental condition, but positive effects on forming attitudes toward the satirized character.

Selective Exposure and the Hostile Media Effect Among Post-Millennials • Mitchell T. Bard, Iona College; D. Jasun Carr, Idaho State University • Social media poses challenges to traditional mass communication theories forged in a narrower, less partisan media environment. Despite the differences in how Post-Millennials access and consume news content, this study finds that when college-aged subjects were presented with news article options in a Twitter feed, they behaved much as the selective exposure and hostile media effect literature predicted they would. The traditional theories also helped explain the effects of the inclusion of fake news.

Social Media as a Sphere for “Risky” Political Expression: A 20-Country Multi-Level Comparative Analysis • Matthew Barnidge, University of Vienna; Brigitte Huber; Homero Gil de Zúñiga, University of Vienna; James Liu • In the context of the United States, research shows a positive relationship between network heterogeneity and political expression on social media at the individual level. This study builds on that research, relying on multi-level analysis that 1) leverages a 20-country comparative survey and 2) includes country-level data on freedom of expression. Results show a positive relationship between network heterogeneity and political expression on social media across countries, but that relationship is stronger where freedom of expression is more limited.

Being young but not reckless: A study on young adults’ social media flight-or-fight to hostility during the 2016 U.S. presidential election • Porismita Borah; Kyle Lorenzano; Miles Sari, Washington State University; Meredith Wang, Washington State University • Although social media is increasingly becoming a popular place to get news and information, the political environment on social media might not be liked by everyone. The 2016 Presidential elections witnessed widespread polarization and partisan animosity. We are interested in examining how young adults maneuver these spaces, particularly in their encounter with incivility and social media participation. We used both in-depth interviews and panel survey data from the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections to examine our hypotheses and research questions. Our findings show that most young people react to incivility strategically to avoid conflicts in their own social network but still willing to speak out to strangers. Our interview participants expressed that incivility was a barrier to participating in political discussion online. However, the panel data shows that the influence of incivility on social media participation is moderated by conflict avoidance. The findings were also conditional on the type of social media. Implications are discussed.

Liking on Facebook might be more important than we think: Social Endorsement, credibility perceptions of campaign information, and engagement • Porismita Borah; Meredith Wang, Washington State University • With the increased use of social media for information gathering about politics, it is important to ask what factors influence the credibility perceptions of this information. This question is particularly relevant at a time when misinformation is abundantly available online. And as individuals increasingly use social media for information gathering, politicians and campaign managers have started using these sites to reach out to voters. In the present study, we conducted a 2 (type of political posts: promote vs. attack posts) by 2 (social endorsement: high vs. low likes) between-subjects, randomized experiment. We examined the relationship among political posts, social endorsement, credibility perceptions, and political engagement on Facebook. Our findings show that posts which promote a politician and contains a high number of “likes” were considered the most credible. Moreover, a moderated-mediation model demonstrated the indirect effect of type of post on Facebook participation mediated by credibility of the post, and moderated by number of likes. Implications are discussed.

Partisan strength and social media use among voters during the 2016 Hong Kong Legislative Council election: Examining the roles of ambivalence and disagreement • Michael Chan, Chinese University of Hong Kong • High identifiers to political parties are typically the most cognitively and behaviorally engaged during democratic elections. Using a national post-election survey of voters (N = 924) in the 2016 Hong Kong Legislative Council election, the present study examined the relationship between partisan strength and a variety of behaviors on social network sites and messaging apps. Findings showed that partisan strength was positively associated with all consumptive and expressive behaviors on social media during the campaign. However, the relationships were attenuated by political ambivalence and disagreement for expressive behaviors (though not consumptive behaviors), such that the relationships were generally only significant under conditions of lower ambivalence towards political parties and less disagreement among one’s friendship networks. Although social media provides an important outlet for partisan expression during election campaigns, its use is nevertheless contingent on different internal and external factors. Implications for the findings are discussed.

A Path to Deliberation? A Moderated Mediation Model of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations, and Information Selectivity on Elaborative Reasoning • Hsuan-Ting Chen, The Chinese University of Hong Kong • This study draws on an experiment combined with web behavior-tracking data to understand the roles of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, including personal issue importance and motivated-reasoning goals, in influencing people to seek pro- and counterattitudinal information and how the information selectivity in turn affects elaborative reasoning. Findings suggest that proattitudinal exposure mediates the relationship between personal issue importance and generating rationales for one’s own viewpoint on the issue, while counterattitudinal exposure mediates the path from personal issue importance to generating rationales for not only oppositional but also one’s own viewpoint. This result highlights the significant role of counterattitudinal exposure in enhancing deliberative democracy. However, the moderated mediation analyses further indicate that the indirect paths through counterattitudinal exposure only occur for those who are highly motivated by accuracy goals to search for information. Implications for the functioning of deliberative democracy are discussed.

Reassessing Issue Emphasis and Agenda Building on Twitter During the Presidential Primary Season • Bethany Conway-Silva, California Polytechnic State University; Christine Filer; Kate Kenski; Eric Tsetsi • This study examined salient issues within Twitter feeds of the 2016 presidential primary candidates and their campaigns, as well as the feeds of the two major parties (RNC and DNC). We also examined the extent to which issue agendas across these Twitter sources predicted those of elite newspapers. Results suggest that, in contrast to the 2012 primaries, issue emphasis on Twitter by candidates/campaigns and the two major parties aligned with the issue ownership hypothesis. Though the ability of Twitter sources to predict the press agenda was not confined to owned issues, candidate/campaign Twitter feeds and those of the parties did predict the press agenda on a variety of topics. Results also confirm previous findings that the press is better able to predict the Twitter agenda than the reverse.

Interest in Foreign Policy and Foreign News during Presidential Elections • Raluca Cozma, Kansas State University • This study uses survey data from the Iowa Caucus Poll conducted in January 2016 to examine the relationship between voters’ use of traditional media and social media and their interest in foreign policy during presidential primaries. The results of the analysis suggest that, despite conventional beliefs that Americans are not interested in foreign policy or foreign news, Iowans are highly concerned about issues like terrorism and foreign policy. However, one of their top sources of political information, local television, correlates with a decline in interest in foreign policy, even as the world is more interconnected than ever.

Behavior notwithstanding: Person perception and news photographs of the 2016 presidential election • Nicole Dahmen, University of Oregon • Scholars have demonstrated the value of visuals in political communication. While analysis of visuals is generally an understudied area in political communication, there is a line of research that has considered photographs in presidential elections. This research builds on this line of inquiry to continue the well-established research tradition of looking at print news photographs in regard to person perception theory in presidential campaigns, thus furthering a systematic approach to media scholarship. Study findings show that there were statistically significant differences in the photographic presentations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in the 2016 election, with Clinton pictured more favorably than Trump.

“I Have a Winning Temperament:” Analyzing Personality in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Debates • Stefanie Davis, The Pennsylvania State University; Virginia Harrison, The Pennsylvania State University; Yeonhwa Oh, The Pennsylvania State University • The first 2016 U.S. presidential debate was the most-watched debate of all time. By analyzing the transcripts of all three debates, this study attempts to tease out the personality traits of each candidate using the Big 5 Personality Scale. Placing so much faith in polling led to be problematic in the 2016 election cycle. Incorporating other techniques, such as analyzing personality profiles of candidates, could add depth and richness to the process of predicting elections.

The fight for the voter’s favor: The adoption of innovative political behavioral targeting techniques • Tom Dobber, Universiteit van Amsterdam • Political campaigns increasingly collect and use data to microtarget specific voters with tailored messages. As a result, campaigns limit journalists’ capabilities to scrutinize political actors and their campaigns, potentially hinder public deliberation, and raise questions about citizens’ privacy. This study examines how campaign level and system level contextual factors form barriers and facilitators for campaigns, operating in a multiparty democracy, in developing data-driven targeting tools. It shows how campaigns innovate and develop targeting techniques.

What makes a president? The role of gender, emotion, ideology, and sexism in predicting candidate evaluations. • Rebecca Donaway, Washington State University; Myiah Hutchens, Washington State University; Colin Storm, Washington State University • We use two within-subjects experimental design studies to examine how visually-displayed emotion, gender, and ideology of fictional potential presidential candidates influenced evaluations of those politicians. Results across both studies show that happy women were consistently evaluated more positively. Adding political ideology in the second study shows that individuals respond more favorably to politicians that match their own ideology, and participants who report higher levels of sexism evaluate Republican candidates more highly.

Confident, Committed, or Cooperative: Participation in User-Generated Content, Digital Badges, and Youth Engagement • Melissa R Gotlieb, Texas Tech University; Melanie Sarge, Texas Tech University; Sadia Cheema, Texas Tech University; Lynn Jessica Foumena Agnoung • This study aims to identify the psychological processes by which participation in user-generated content (UGC) increases democratic engagement among young citizens. Self-efficacy, self-perception, and self-categorization are offered to provide an account of the performative, expressive, and collaborative aspects of UGC. Results of an experiment show that participating in UGC increases engagement through enhanced self-efficacy; however, receiving a digital badge as incentive for UGC undermines the effects of self-efficacy, as well as self-perception and self-categorization.

Self-Reported vs. Digitally Recorded: Partisanship and Ideology in Facebook Networks • Katherine Haenschen, Princeton University • Ample research focuses on the influence of online discussion networks on political behaviors. Such work often relies on individuals’ accurate perceptions of their discussants’ partisanship. This paper presents the results of a survey paired with a Facebook app that collected subjects’ network size and political views. These data enable the comparison of self-reported and digitally recorded partisanship and ideology. The results show a strong relationship between individual-level measures, whereas the network-level variables are less reliable.

Anger, Cynicism, but Trust in Democracy in Swing-state Presidential Primaries • Jennifer Harker, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Daniel Riffe; Martin Kifer, Highpoint University • This study explored “populist anger” (PA) in the week before the 2016 presidential primaries in two “swing states” and how it was related to political beliefs and communication behaviors using online panel survey data (N=1,969). PA, efficacy, cynicism, knowledge, engagement, and information-seeking were examined. PA was not related to political information seeking but negatively related to ratings of traditional media. Age, cynicism, efficacy, ideology, candidate choice, and trust in democracy were strongest predictors of PA.

How to Respond to Right-Wing Populism? Investigating the Effects of Three Government Response Strategies on Anti-Immigrant and Anti-Government Attitudes • Raffael Heiss, University of Vienna • Right-wing populists are on the rise. Past research has shown that their campaigns can fuel political discontent and anti-immigrant attitudes. Little is known about how mainstream politicians can respond to right-wing populism. Based on data collected in an online survey experiment (N = 416), this study investigated the effects of three different government response strategies to right-wing populism: a fact-based, a value-based and a populist response. Findings reveal that both value-based and populist responses fueled anti-immigrant attitudes, but only among the low educated. The fact-based response did not affect anti-immigrant attitudes. However, fact-based and value-based responses decreased anti-government attitudes, but only among those with the highest education. The populist response did not affect anti-government attitudes. The role of facts and political deliberation, political correctness and the adoption of populist communication in mainstream politics are discussed.

Activating the Audience: Authoritarianism, White Resentment, and Parisian News Use in the 2016 Presidential Election • Jay Hmielowski, Washington State University; Michael Beam, Kent State University; Myiah Hutchens, Washington State University • In this paper, we use panel data to examine the relationship between authoritarianism and white resentment with partisan media use and candidate support in the 2016 Presidential Election. We find that both of these variables were associated with support for Trump. Only white resentment correlated with use of partisan media outlets. In addition, we find the effects of conservative media concentrated among those low in authoritarianism and white resentment.

The power of anger: Emotional triggers for information seeking and sharing after the 2016 U.S. presidential election • Jennifer Hoewe, University of Alabama; Scott Parrott, University of Alabama • This study sought to understand the impact of four discrete emotions on post-election information seeking and sharing behaviors. Young adults assessed their emotional experiences immediately following the 2016 U.S. presidential election as well as how they sought and shared information about the election results. Those who experienced anger reported the greatest amount of information seeking and sharing. Anger also uniquely predicted seeking and sharing through interpersonal communication. Anxiety and enthusiasm prompted some seeking and sharing behaviors, but a far smaller number. Hopefulness had little influence on information gathering.

Anti-Europe, anti-immigrant and anti-party: UKIP issue ownership and the road to Brexit. • Ceri Hughes, University of Wisconsin-Madison • The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) was the only large UK political party universally in support of the Leave campaign in the 2016 European Union referendum. All the other major UK political parties were completely or mainly on the side of Remain. Yet UKIP won. Using a mixed methodology of content analysis and debate network analysis, this research illustrates how UKIP effectively conflated the issues of Europe and immigration throughout the run-up to the 2015 General Election and were given partial ownership of, and competence on, the issue. They placed themselves as an “antiparty” party, outside “establishment” politics on the side of “ordinary people”. This placed them in a strong position to potentially dictate the discourse agenda leading to the referendum. This illustrates that smaller parties can be granted elite status to set agenda on germane issues. This research also concludes that UKIP’s “fundi/antiparty” strategy and success identifies a potential path for core-issue parties.

Think the Vote: The influence Selective Approach and Avoidance to Social Media and cognitive measures on Support for Trump and Clinton • Thomas Johnson; Barbara Kaye, University of Tennessee • “This study examines whether systematic and heuristic processing, selective approach and selective avoidance to Facebook, Twitter, video-sharing sites like YouTube and social news sites like Reddit, and need for cognition influenced support for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Selective exposure and avoidance to social media proved weak predictors of support for the candidates. Supporters for both candidates relied on heuristics to make voting decisions. Clinton supporters had high need for cognition, Trump supporters low need.

Explaining the Diversity Deficit: The Motivation, Opportunity and Ability Model • Dam Hee Kim • Although seeking diverse viewpoints is widely considered an important citizenship value, research on selective exposure demonstrates that many individuals fail to live up to the diversity values: the diversity deficit. Under the theoretical framework of Motivation, Opportunity, and Ability, this paper demonstrates that partisans with certain resource such as political interest, news habits, and diversity-seeking skills better translate their diversity values into diverse exposure in the context of mass media as well as social media.

Beneficial News or Harmful News? The Influence of Perceived Negative and Positive Effects of Election Polling News • HYUNJUNG KIM • This study examines how the perceived negative and positive effects of polling reports are linked to political behaviors such as support for regulations restricting election polling news, engagement in campaign discourse, and reinforcement of support for a candidate. The results of an experiment with college students as the sample show that voters tend to perceive election polling news as having greater negative effects on other voters when the candidate they support is behind in the race compared to when the candidate they support is leading. Further, the perceived negative effect of polling news is positively related to support for restrictions on polling news particularly for supporters of a losing candidate. The perceived positive effect of polling news is directly and indirectly linked to reinforcement of support for a candidate through pride. The implications of the findings and the limitations of the study are discussed.

Does Social Media Matter?: How perceptions of political participation on social media can facilitate political expression and foster offline political participation • Nojin Kwak; Daniel Lane; Brian Weeks, University of Michigan; Dam Hee Kim; Slgi Lee; Sarah Bachleda • Americans’ views of political activity on social media range from exuberant to exasperated. But does the way citizens perceive social media influence their online and offline political behaviors? While the popular narrative of “Slacktivism” suggests that perceiving social media as an easy and impactful way to engage in politics only leads individuals to disengage from traditional forms of political participation, a comprehensive empirical investigation has yet to be undertaken. In the present study, we propose and test a theoretical model in which perceiving social media as context for politics encourages individuals to express themselves on social media, which in turn increases the likelihood that they will participate offline. Our results demonstrate that perceiving social media as easy or impactful can indirectly increase offline political participation, through the influence of political expression on social media. Further, we highlight that this mediated path is stronger for older individuals and less impactful for younger individuals. We also find that those with predominantly politically like-minded networks are more likely to benefit from this process. The implications for reconceptualizing the relationship between perceptions and political participation in the context of social media are discussed.

Connecting with Hyperlocal News Website: Cause or Effect of Civic Participation? • Wenlin Liu, University of Houston; Nien-Tsu Nancy Chen, California State University Channel Islands; Sandra Ball-Rokeach, University of Southern California; Seungahn Nah • This is one of the first systematic explorations into the relationship between residents’ connection to a hyperlocal news website and civic participation. Integrating an ecological framework of civic participation and an audience-centered approach, the present study investigates whether residents’ connection to a hyperlocal news website serves as the cause or effect of community participation. Using survey data with probability sampling of ethnically diverse residents, the current study identifies reciprocal influence between hyperlocal news connection and civic participation level. Findings suggest that the civic potential of hyperlocal digital news may result from both agentic use of and less intentional exposure to it.

Towards Engaged Citizens: Influences of Second Screening on College Students’ Political Knowledge and Participation • Yiben Liu; Bumsoo Kim, University of Alabama; Yonghwan Kim, Dongguk University • Commonly conducted alongside political TV viewing, second screening is a new media use behavior which merits explorations at diverse levels. This study aims to (1) develop specific categories of second screening activities during television campaign exposure, and (2) explore the influences of each type of second screening activity on individuals’ cognition ( political knowledge) and behavior (political participation), (3) examine whether the effects are mediated by internal (internal political efficacy) and external (political discussion) factors.

The effect of political information reception and participation through social network sites on political values and offline political participation • Yingying MA • This study examined the role of political information reception through social network sites (SNSs) on the relationship between political values (blind patriotism, civil liberties, and law and order) and political behaviors for young adults who engage in a high degree of participation through SNSs using the case of umbrella movement in Hong Kong. By combining reinforcing spirals model and differential gains model, I build and test a moderated mediation model in which participation through SNSs amplifies the indirect effect of political values on offline political participation through political information reception via SNSs. Based on a sample of 176 university students in Hong Kong, the results show general support for the hypothesized model. The theoretical and practical implications of the present study for political SNSs use were discussed.

The “Spiral of Silence” Revisited: A Meta-Analysis on the Relationship between Perceptions of Opinion Support and Political Opinion Expression • Jörg Matthes, University of Vienna; Johannes Knoll; Christian von Sikorski • The key assumption of spiral of silence theory is that opinion climate perceptions affect political opinion expression. We meta-analyzed the strength of this relationship and clarified the impact of theoretically relevant moderators. Sixty-six studies collectively including more than 27,000 participants were located. We observed a significant positive relationship (r = .10; Zr = .10). The largest silencing effect (r = .34) was observed when participants talk to their family, friends, or neighbors about obtrusive issues.

Free Market Media, Democracy and Partisanship: A Case Study of Kolkata’s Newspapers’ Coverage of Anti-Industrialisation Protests • Suruchi Mazumdar, OP Jindal Global University • This paper studies how the news media’s partisan interests and the norms of professional journalism intersect and alters the partisan model’s ability to represent diversity when partisan and commercial models co-exist. Through a case study of the news coverage of anti-industrialisation protests in the eastern Indian city of Kolkata and by drawing on political economy of communication, this paper argues that “hybrid” forms of professional journalism remain central to the partisan model’s ability to represent differences or “external pluralism”. This paper proposes the conceptual framework of “hybrid” partisan model to account for the changes in the partisan system.

An Emergent Public: Journalistic Representation of Social Media as Public Opinion • Shannon McGregor, University of Texas; Daniel Kreiss; Shannon Zenner, University of North Carolina • Journalists have historically used polling data to represent public opinion, but we explore the ways in which journalists now use social media data as a measure of public attention and evaluation, to document how elite messages resonate, and to convey reactions to political performances. We explore the implications of this emergent form of public opinion on politics and reporting through field observations, interviews and a content analysis during the 2016 presidential campaign.

An Analysis of Hillary Clinton’s Online Image Repair Tactics in 2008 and 2016 • Mia Moody-Ramirez, 1968; Mayra Monroy, Baylor University • This analysis looks at how Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton utilized her personal blog to improve her image during the 2008 and 2016 presidential races. Clinton had the difficult job of convincing voters she was tough enough as a woman to handle issues such as war, finances and health care, yet feminine enough to fulfill preconceived notions of women. Her blog entries reinforced her statements with quotes from high-level political figures and corporate executives. However, the media did not always cover her preferred frames.

Fake News Is Not the Real Problem • Jacob Nelson, Northwestern University • In light of the recent U.S. election, many fear that “fake news” has become a powerful and sinister force in the news media environment. These fears stem from the idea that as news consumption increasingly takes place via social media sites, news audiences are more likely to find themselves drawn in by sensational headlines to sources that lack accuracy or legitimacy, with troubling consequences for democracy. However, we know little about the extent to which online audiences are exposed to fake news, and how these outlets factor into the average digital news diet. In this paper, I argue that fears about fake news consumption echo fears about partisan selective exposure, in that both stem from concerns that more media choice leads audiences to consume news that align with their beliefs, and to ignore news that does not. Yet recent studies have concluded that the partisan media audience (1) is small and (2) also consumes news from popular, centrist outlets. I use online news audience data to show a similar phenomenon plays out when it comes to fake news. Findings reveal that social media does indeed play an outsized role in generating traffic to fake news sites; however, the actual fake news audience is small, and a large portion of it also visits more popular, “real” news sites. I conclude by discussing the implications of a news media landscape where the audience is exposed to contradictory sources of public affairs information.

The Verbal Tone of the 2016 Presidential Primaries: Candidate Twitter, Debate, and Stump Speech Rhetoric • David Painter, Rollins College; Juliana Fernandes, University of Miami • This investigation uses DICTION® software to analyze the main and interaction effects of candidate partisanship (Republican and Democratic) and communication channel (Twitter, televised debates, and stump speeches) on the 2016 U.S. presidential primary candidates’ verbal tone. The main effects results indicate the Republican candidates’ rhetoric contained significantly more optimism, but significantly less realism, than did the Democratic candidates’ rhetoric. The interaction results suggest the main effects were largely driven by Trump and Sanders’ Twitter rhetoric.

Social Media and Political Learning: Roles of News Elaboration and News Curation • Chang Sup Park • This study intends to examine whether and how the use of social media for news predicts political knowledge. Drawing on a national survey, the present study finds that social media for news is positively associated with issue knowledge, but not with civic knowledge. Social media news elaboration and social media news curation are positively related to issue knowledge and civic knowledge. This research also finds that social media news elaboration mediates the association between social media for news and issue knowledge, while social media news curation moderates the relationship between social media for news and issue and civic knowledge.

Are Echo Chambers Louder Online? Pre-Election Confirmation Bias in Selective Exposure Online Versus Print • George Pearson, The Ohio State University; Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick • This study offers the first rigorous evidence suggesting online news fosters greater confirmation bias than traditional media. Data was collected by presenting political articles with conservative versus liberal stance either online or in print. Selective reading was logged or taped. Data were collected during the U.S. 2016 presidential primaries. Partisans anticipating a loss (conservatives) were expected to exhibit less confirmation bias. Liberals showed a confirmation bias, but only online, suggesting print contexts reduce confirmation bias.

Liking the (funny) messenger: The influence of news parody exposure, perceived humor, and predispositions on media trust • Jason Peifer, Indiana University, Bloomington • In an effort to explore how political entertainment can influence media trust, this multi-study research (N=331; N=317) examines how individual predispositions and the perceived humor of a news parody message interact to influence media trust. Findings demonstrate that one’s affective disposition toward news parody source can have an indirect effect on trust, as mediated by the perceived funniness of the humor. This effect is shown to be conditioned upon attitudes about the legitimacy of news parody as a news source.

Political Communication and Public Distrust in Northern Ireland: Distrust Trickles Down in a Post-Conflict Society • Charis Rice, Coventry University; Maureen Taylor • This paper focuses on how political communication may influence public trust in government. Grounded in the work of political agenda setting and political logic, this study of 15 organizations in Northern Ireland demonstrates that political leaders primarily set the ‘distrust agenda’ through divisive discourse. This trickles down to the public, exacerbated by the media’s focus on conflict. Concurrently, trust is being built from the bottom up through the pro-peace communication and actions of community groups.

Schadenfreude, Chagrin, and Deliberation: Discussing the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election in Online News Comments • Martin J. Riedl, The University of Texas at Austin; Gina Chen; Jordon Brown, The University of Texas at Austin; Jeremy Shermak, University of Texas at Austin; Ori Tenenboim, The University of Texas at Austin • Fierce debate – not just in editorial columns, but also in online news comments – marked the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. This study explores the public discourse in the immediate aftermath of the election, via textual analysis of 1,100 online news comments from The New York Times, USA Today, and Fox News. Findings suggest that while comments contain incivility and schadenfreude, they also offer a glimmer of hope for democratic discussion. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

A methodology to measure the use (and misuse) of reframed news-mediated content in presidential campaign commercials • Chris Roberts, University of Alabama; Stan Diel, University of Alabama • Political candidates use third-party evidence to bolter claims, but often that evidence is reframed in ways different from the original intent. This study introduces a content analysis methodology to categorize misuse of news-mediated evidence, using the functional theory of political discourse. An exhaustive analysis of 2008 and 2012 presidential spots showed that 21.8% of 448 pieces of evidence was used in ways different from the original meaning. The methodology and implications are discussed.

Examining the Salience of Cognitive and Emotional Frames in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Debates • Abdulsamad Sahly, Arizona State University • By investigating the 2016 presidential debates and using quantitative content analysis, this study explores the differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in using cognitive and emotional frames in various topics discussed in their presidential debates. The study found that the cognitive frame was salient in Clinton’s rhetoric more than Trump’s in overall debates. Considering the topics that presented in the debates, Trump framed domestic policy and civil right cognitively more than Clinton. In contrast, Clinton framed the topics such as economy, foreign policy and securing America, immigration and refugees, race and social relations in America, and presidential fitness cognitively more than Trump. The study also found that the emotional frame was salient in Trump’s rhetoric more than Clinton’s in overall debates. Considering the topics and the tone, Trumps framed emotionally the topics of foreign policy, immigration and refugees, and presidential fitness more than Clinton. On the other hand, Clinton framed social relation, economy, and domestic policy emotionally more than Trump. This finding have implications for understanding how one frame either cognitive or emotional could be more effective than the other in political communication and how candidates think and act strategically to persuade their supporters. The study provided new approach in which strategic communication could be studied using framing theory.

Young Muslims’ Responses to Anti-Islamic Right-Wing Populist Campaigns: Discrimination, Social Identity Threats, and Hostility • Desirée Schmuck; Jörg Matthes, University of Vienna; Frank Hendrik Paul, University of Vienna • Anti-Islamic sentiments have become central to right-wing populist mobilization in Western societies, which often results in negative and stereotypical portrayals of Muslims in political campaigns. Although these portrayals may have detrimental effects on minority members’ identity formation and attitudes toward the majority population, little is known about their effects on members of the depicted group. A lab experiment with 145 young Muslims reveals that right-wing populist ad exposure increases perceived discrimination, which in turn decreases individuals’ self-esteem and national identification, and encourages hostility toward the majority population. Religious identification, in contrast, is not affected by ad exposure. Implications of these findings for intergroup relations and democratic processes are discussed.

When the Regime Meets the Social Forces How Propaganda Moderates the Influence of Independent Opinion Leaders on Social Media in China • Li Shao, Syracuse University; Fangfei Wang; He Huang, Renmin University of China • Social media provides free space for independent opinion leaders (OPLs) to influence public opinion in Contemporary China, in which OPLs need to contest with the powerful propaganda machine. Then, how much influence could OPLs exert to the public under this shadow of authoritarianism? A survey experiment on 1,751 Chinese online users finds that OPLs guide respondents’ policy preference and encourage reposting behavior when they are not seen as a part of propaganda. However, when the presence of opinion leaders elevates the awareness of propaganda, respondents’ disapproval to the policy increases and their wiliness to repost drops. This result shows that it is hard for the authoritarian government to persuade its citizens when the propaganda machine is highly prevalent.

Effect of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show Media Critiques on Declining Public Trust in News Media • Edo Steinberg, Indiana University; Julia Fox, Indiana University • Against the backdrop of continuing decline in public trust of media, this study uses piecewise (also known as segmented or broken-stick) regression analysis of Gallup polling data to examine the possible impact of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on public opinion toward the news media. Findings suggest Stewart’s rising influence in the public sphere as he stepped up his criticism of the news media may have accelerated that trend for younger adults.

A Global Election: Analyses of Arabic, Chinese, and Russian News Coverage of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election • Ethan Stokes, University of Alabama • In an increasingly globalized world, it is important to understand global perceptions of a nation’s politics. Through a content analysis of Arabic, Chinese, and Russian translated news media transcripts, this study focuses on these nations’ coverage and perceptions of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Drawing from framing theory, the results show the Arabic and Chinese sources favorably framed Clinton and the Democratic Party, and the Russian sources favorably framed Trump and the Republican Party. The implications of this study are discussed at length.

Is Bad News Biased? How Poll Reporting Affects Perceptions of Media Bias and Presumed Behavior • Mallory Perryman; Jordan Foley, University of Wisconsin-Madison; MIchael Wagner, University of Wisconsin-Madison • Battleground state polls are a prominent part of U.S. election news coverage. In this experimental study (N=863), we tested how polling results impact how partisans evaluate the news stories through which the polls are reported. Partisans tended to see the articles as biased against their candidate; perceived bias was amplified when their candidate trailed in the poll. Additionally, we found that perceived effects of the articles on others’ behavior differed for ingroup and outgroup members.

Did the Media Get Her Charisma Wrong? A Systematic Examination of Hillary Clinton’s Charisma During the 2016 Elections. • ben wasike, university of texas rio grande valley • Media personalities have questioned Hillary Clinton’s charisma, but without solid data. I compared her charisma with male candidates during the last four races. Clinton was the third most charismatic candidate and her charisma patterns do not differ from the male candidates’ patterns. Most gender-based charisma patterns in literature did not manifest. Differences occurred regarding rhetorical complexity but these were due to ideological differences. Data indicates Clinton is more charismatic than commonly perceived in the media.

“Not Proud of It”: Candidate Arguments and Newspaper Coverage of the Second 2016 Presidential Debate • Andrew Wirzburger, Syracuse University • Considering the volatility of the 2016 presidential election and increasing skepticism regarding the role and credibility of news media, this study was undertaken to analyze candidate performance in the second 2016 presidential debate and compare it to subsequent newspaper coverage. Employing a content analysis method from previous research (Benoit, Stein, & Hansen, 2004), results supported the hypothesis that newspapers would represent attacks and character remarks disproportionately higher than their actual appearances in the debate. An analysis of rhetorical styles is included, as well as how newspapers translated the debate into coverage. This study lends support to previous analyses of presidential debate coverage and provides a foundation for further research into news coverage of the 2016 presidential election.

Ethnic Network Diversity and Familiarity and Engagement with Race-related News on Facebook • Donghee Yvette Wohn, New Jersey Institute of Technology; SJ Min; Brian J. Bowe, Western Washington University; Sona Patel, New Jersey Institute of Technology • This study of U.S. adults (N= 296) investigated the relationship between the ethnic diversity of one’s network on Facebook and engagement with race-related issues on Facebook. We looked at two events—the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) pro-tests—and found that the exposure to the issue on Facebook increases familiarity and engagement for both contexts. Having more Native Americans in one’s network increased engagement with DAPL issues but having more Blacks in one’s network was not correlated with engagement with BLM issues. Having more Whites in one’s network decreased engagement with BLM issues, sug-gesting that ethnic network diversity on social media matters and works in different ways for issues before and after they receive mainstream media attention.

Media Exposure, Nationalism and Policy Evaluation on South China Sea News: Examining the Mediation Role of Third-Person Effect and Online Participation • Li Xueqing; Guo Lei • This study adopted the third-person effect perspective to analyze how South China Sea news affects people’s political attitudes and participation. The survey (N=868) found respondents perceived a stronger media effect on others than on themselves, although the result observed a greater media effect on self. Moreover, the perceived effect on self promoted nationalism and online participation, while the perceived effect on others improved policy evaluation. Political participation reinforced nationalism and policy evaluation, and mediated the relationship from media exposure to the political attitudes.

Incidental News Exposure on Social Media, Information Seeking, and Political Participation in the 2016 Presidential Election • Masahiro Yamamoto, University at Albany-SUNY; Alyssa Morey • This study proposes that incidental news exposure on social media facilitates political participation by increasing active information seeking via traditional, social, and online media. Two-wave panel data collected before the 2016 U.S. presidential election reveal that incidental news exposure on social media is positively related to attention to traditional media, social media use for news, and online political information seeking. Online political information seeking is in turn positively related to political participation.

Societal Majority, Facebook, and the Spiral of Silence in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election • Matthew Kushin, Shepherd University; Masahiro Yamamoto, University at Albany-SUNY; Francis Dalisay, University of Guam • Using the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we examined fear of isolation as a mediator of the relationship between perceived opinion congruency in society and on Facebook, respectively, and willingness to express support for a candidate offline and on Facebook. Survey results from an online panel (N = 630) demonstrated that perceived opinion congruency for Clinton in society and for Trump on Facebook had an indirect link with willingness to express opinions face-to-face and on Facebook.

Social Media Uses, Political Participation, and Civic Engagement in Election 2016 • Hongwei “Chris” Yang; Newly Paul, Appalachian State University; Jean DeHart • After Election 2016, an online survey of 3,810 US college students shows that their online and offline political participation, and civic engagement were closely related. Their time spent using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram did not positively predict online/offline political participation and civic engagement. Their political use of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram served as a positive predictor of offline political participation but not online participation and civic engagement. More interesting findings are presented and discussed.


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