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Voter Cynicism, Perception of Media Negativism and Voting Behavior in Taiwan's 2001 Election
Unformatted Document Text:  3 democratic government, Norris indicated, “greater concern has focused on the effects of widespread cynicism in newer and more fragile democracies such as Russia, South Africa, and Taiwan.” (p.8) Many research findings in the United States have confirmed that the negative coverage of politics has led to high levels of citizen cynicism and negativity (Bennett, 1999; Lee, 2001). However, other research has argued that the news media does not make citizens more cynical or alienated. This study will try to explore the relationships between Taiwan voters’ media behavior, political cynicism, perceptions of media negativism, and actual voting behavior. Literature Review Videomalaise Thesis and Political Disaffection Scholars have voiced strong concerns regarding the detrimental impact of negative political campaign communication—especially negative television advertising—on political participation and the democratic processes. The exposure to campaign information by voters in the U.S. has found that television has trivialized campaigning, causing negative views about the campaign process, cynicism toward the political system, and apathy or malaise (Johnson-Cartee & Copeland, 1991; Moy & Pfau, 1999). Several research studies have tried to prove that negative campaigning affects citizens’ responses to politics—such as reducing the positive character of what political scientists have labeled “public mood” and causing an increase in political cynicism. Both effects have, in turn, been implicated as influences in decreased voting probabilities (Rosenstone & Hansen, 1993; Leshner and Thorson, 2000). The most famous videomalaise thesis was proposed by Robinson (1976). He stated that televisions’ critical coverage of politics and government has increased distrust of politicians and government institutions, and heightened feelings of political powerlessness. He presented evidence showing a positive association between reliance on television (as a news source) and expressions of political distrust, cynicism, and powerlessness. However, efforts to replicate Robinson’s “videomalaise” findings have generated confusing and sometimes contradictory results (Leshner & McKean, 1997; Bowen, et al., 2000).

Authors: Peng, Wein (Bonnie).
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democratic government, Norris indicated, “greater concern has focused on the effects
of widespread cynicism in newer and more fragile democracies such as Russia, South
Africa, and Taiwan.” (p.8)
Many research findings in the United States have confirmed that the negative
coverage of politics has led to high levels of citizen cynicism and negativity (Bennett,
1999; Lee, 2001). However, other research has argued that the news media does not
make citizens more cynical or alienated. This study will try to explore the
relationships between Taiwan voters’ media behavior, political cynicism, perceptions
of media negativism, and actual voting behavior.
Literature Review
Videomalaise Thesis and Political Disaffection
Scholars have voiced strong concerns regarding the detrimental impact of negative
political campaign communication—especially negative television advertising—on
political participation and the democratic processes. The exposure to campaign
information by voters in the U.S. has found that television has trivialized campaigning,
causing negative views about the campaign process, cynicism toward the political
system, and apathy or malaise (Johnson-Cartee & Copeland, 1991; Moy & Pfau,
1999).
Several research studies have tried to prove that negative campaigning affects
citizens’ responses to politics—such as reducing the positive character of what
political scientists have labeled “public mood” and causing an increase in political
cynicism. Both effects have, in turn, been implicated as influences in decreased
voting probabilities (Rosenstone & Hansen, 1993; Leshner and Thorson, 2000).
The most famous videomalaise thesis was proposed by Robinson (1976). He stated
that televisions’ critical coverage of politics and government has increased distrust of
politicians and government institutions, and heightened feelings of political
powerlessness. He presented evidence showing a positive association between
reliance on television (as a news source) and expressions of political distrust,
cynicism, and powerlessness. However, efforts to replicate Robinson’s
“videomalaise” findings have generated confusing and sometimes contradictory
results (Leshner & McKean, 1997; Bowen, et al., 2000).


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