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Exposure to Mediated Political Conflict: Effects of Civility of Interaction on Arousal and Memory

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Abstract:

This paper presents results from two experiments about viewer reactions to televised political disagreement. The purpose was to examine arousal responses to politicians engaged in face-to-face political debate, and to examine whether production characteristics of televised portrayals alter memory after viewing. Using videotapes of political talk shows created expressly for these experiments, results showed that the less civil versions of the same exchange of political views created greater arousal in viewers as measured by skin conductance levels. Likewise, those who watched the talk show from a close-up camera perspective experienced greater arousal than those who watched the same exchanges shot from a medium camera distance. A second experiment focused on the consequences of heightened arousal for memory. Consistent with the literature on arousal, memory for the main emphasis of the exchange – the candidates’ differing issue positions – was enhanced by the highly arousing, uncivil presentations. But memory for details – the arguments underlying those same positions -- was suppressed by the highly arousing presentations. Although recall of issue arguments consistent with respondents’ own opinions was not affected by the civility of the exchange, subjects were less likely to recall the opposition’s arguments in the uncivil, as opposed to the civil, condition. We discuss the implications of these findings for the producers and consumers of political television.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

polit (83), civil (49), arous (45), view (40), issu (39), peopl (38), conflict (37), differ (34), experi (32), candid (32), exchang (32), subject (31), face (31), argument (31), close (30), uncivil (30), recal (27), televis (27), use (25), memori (24), media (24),

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political communication, debates
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Name: International Communication Association
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MLA Citation:

Mutz, Diana., Reeves, Byron. and Wise, Kevin. "Exposure to Mediated Political Conflict: Effects of Civility of Interaction on Arousal and Memory" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA, May 27, 2003 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p111574_index.html>

APA Citation:

Mutz, D. , Reeves, B. and Wise, K. , 2003-05-27 "Exposure to Mediated Political Conflict: Effects of Civility of Interaction on Arousal and Memory" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Marriott Hotel, San Diego, CA Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p111574_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper presents results from two experiments about viewer reactions to televised political disagreement. The purpose was to examine arousal responses to politicians engaged in face-to-face political debate, and to examine whether production characteristics of televised portrayals alter memory after viewing. Using videotapes of political talk shows created expressly for these experiments, results showed that the less civil versions of the same exchange of political views created greater arousal in viewers as measured by skin conductance levels. Likewise, those who watched the talk show from a close-up camera perspective experienced greater arousal than those who watched the same exchanges shot from a medium camera distance. A second experiment focused on the consequences of heightened arousal for memory. Consistent with the literature on arousal, memory for the main emphasis of the exchange – the candidates’ differing issue positions – was enhanced by the highly arousing, uncivil presentations. But memory for details – the arguments underlying those same positions -- was suppressed by the highly arousing presentations. Although recall of issue arguments consistent with respondents’ own opinions was not affected by the civility of the exchange, subjects were less likely to recall the opposition’s arguments in the uncivil, as opposed to the civil, condition. We discuss the implications of these findings for the producers and consumers of political television.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 17
Word count: 6084
Text sample:
Exposure to Mediated Political Conflict: Effects of Civility of Interaction on Arousal and Memory *Diana C. Mutz The Ohio State University 2140 Derby Hall 154 North Oval Mall Columbus Ohio 43210-1373 T: 614 324-9123 Fax: 614 292-1146 mutz.1@osu.edu *Byron Reeves Kevin Wise (Student) Department of Communication McClatchy Hall Building 120 Stanford University Stanford CA 94305 T: 650 725-3033 F: 650 725-2472 reeves@stanford.edu kevwise@stanford.edu Paper submitted to the Political Communication Division of the International Communication Association November 1 2002. This
Candidate Positions. Civil Uncivil 4.00 3.50 3.00 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00 Recall of Candidate Positions Figure 3. Open-Ended Recall of Issue Arguments by Civility of Discourse and Respondent Opinion. 11.00 Civil Uncivil 10.50 10.00 9.50 9.00 8.50 8.00 Arguments supporting own issue Arguments opposing own issue position position 16 17


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