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Exposure to Mediated Political Conflict: Effects of Civility of Interaction on Arousal and Memory
Unformatted Document Text:  9 Table 1. Summary of Experimental Designs. Experiment 1 Experiment 2 Design: Within-subject, Latin Square Between-subject Issues: Tobacco, internet taxes, Glass- Steagall repeal, public service NASA funding, mental health insurance, experience Internet privacy policy, free trade Manipulations: Civil/uncivil, close-up/medium Civil/Uncivil (both close-up versions) Dependent Variables: Arousal (SCL) Open-ended and assisted recall As shown in Table 1, the main difference between the experiments was that Experiment 1 used a within-subject, Latin square design in which each subject experienced all 4 possible experimental conditions in a 2 by 2 design that manipulated civility and interpersonal distance. According to a random schedule, each subject viewed one of the four issues in one of the four possible conditions. The within-subject design facilitated the use of skin conductance level measures (SCL) to track subject’s levels of arousal as they watched each of the tapes. Experiment 2 was a simple, two condition design in which subjects either viewed four civil issue exchanges or four uncivil ones for the same four issues. The advantage of this between-subject design was that it allowed an additional post-test assessment of memory for material in the tapes. Two types of dependent variables were use in the studies. Levels of autonomic arousal were assessed using physiological techniques. Recall of issue positions and issue arguments were assessed immediately after each issue discussion was aired. For recall of issue arguments, open-ended measures were included that asked respondents to write down all arguments they could recall Bob having made and Neil having made in support of each of their positions. These responses were coded by two independent coders, producing a reliability of .90 for the number of unique arguments recalled. Assisted recall was measured by asking respondents to identify items on a list of arguments as having been said by Neil or Bob or neither. Half of the 20 items for each issue were true and half were false for arguments pertaining to each of the two candidates for each of the four issues (thus a total of 80 possible correct answers). To formulate a summary measure of assisted recall, responses were summed for correct answers to questions about what each of the two candidates said. There were 36 subjects in Experiment 1. They were a mix of students and adults in a university community. In Experiment 2, 35 student subjects were randomly assigned to the civil condition and 32 ended up viewing the uncivil versions of the issue exchanges. Physiological Measures As stated previously, Experiment 1 employed a physiological measure of arousal to assess emotional responses. Skin conductance is one indicator of sympathetic activation

Authors: Mutz, Diana., Reeves, Byron. and Wise, Kevin.
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9
Table 1. Summary of Experimental Designs.
Experiment 1
Experiment 2
Design: Within-subject,
Latin
Square
Between-subject
Issues: Tobacco,
internet
taxes,
Glass-
Steagall repeal, public service
NASA funding, mental health
insurance,
experience
Internet privacy policy, free trade
Manipulations:
Civil/uncivil, close-up/medium
Civil/Uncivil (both close-up versions)
Dependent
Variables:
Arousal (SCL)
Open-ended and assisted recall
As shown in Table 1, the main difference between the experiments was that Experiment
1 used a within-subject, Latin square design in which each subject experienced all 4 possible
experimental conditions in a 2 by 2 design that manipulated civility and interpersonal distance.
According to a random schedule, each subject viewed one of the four issues in one of the four
possible conditions. The within-subject design facilitated the use of skin conductance level
measures (SCL) to track subject’s levels of arousal as they watched each of the tapes.
Experiment 2 was a simple, two condition design in which subjects either viewed four
civil issue exchanges or four uncivil ones for the same four issues. The advantage of this
between-subject design was that it allowed an additional post-test assessment of memory for
material in the tapes.
Two types of dependent variables were use in the studies. Levels of autonomic arousal
were assessed using physiological techniques. Recall of issue positions and issue arguments
were assessed immediately after each issue discussion was aired. For recall of issue
arguments, open-ended measures were included that asked respondents to write down all
arguments they could recall Bob having made and Neil having made in support of each of their
positions. These responses were coded by two independent coders, producing a reliability of
.90 for the number of unique arguments recalled.
Assisted recall was measured by asking respondents to identify items on a list of
arguments as having been said by Neil or Bob or neither. Half of the 20 items for each issue
were true and half were false for arguments pertaining to each of the two candidates for each of
the four issues (thus a total of 80 possible correct answers). To formulate a summary measure
of assisted recall, responses were summed for correct answers to questions about what each of
the two candidates said.
There were 36 subjects in Experiment 1. They were a mix of students and adults in a
university community. In Experiment 2, 35 student subjects were randomly assigned to the civil
condition and 32 ended up viewing the uncivil versions of the issue exchanges.

Physiological Measures
As stated previously, Experiment 1 employed a physiological measure of arousal to
assess emotional responses. Skin conductance is one indicator of sympathetic activation


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