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Analyzing Exposure and Attention Variables in Media Effects Research
Unformatted Document Text:  Exposure and Attention 15 given the problems noted with memory measures, including possible confounding with motivation-to-process. Moreover, research outside the media field has shown that a stimulus (message) can affect person perception (e.g., perceptions of smokers) even when the exact nature of the message is not explicitly remembered (Anderson & Hubert, 1963). Consequently, it could be argued that memory measures lose some of the predictive power of exposure measures. Without examination of convergent and discriminant validity of these measures, it is difficult to infer what the theoretical implications are of these differences. In the meantime, it is best to sound a cautionary note with respect to use and interpretation of any one exposure measurement approach, and to recommend when possible triangulation through multiple exposure measurement techniques. These results are also provocative with respect to the theoretical and methodological treatment of the exposure and attention constructs. Methodologically, it is clear that centered and uncentered treatments of multiplicative effects of exposure and attention yield very different results. Uncentered multiplicative effects appear to be merely a variant on inclusion of two additive main effects. They are highly collinear with such effects. At best, they provide a test of non-linear, geometrically increasing effects as opposed to additive effects (recall that a multiplicative interaction of two highly correlated variables is very nearly equivalent to introducing a quadratic term). In such a case, the selection of the lower numerical anchors may also have substantive implications. For example, it may make some theoretical sense to use a zero for the low end of an exposure scale (meaning “no exposure”) as effects of attention should be irrelevant if no exposure has taken place. The converse may not be true: a claim of “no attention” might be theoretically interpreted to mean minimal processing, but not necessarily

Authors: Aloise-Young, Patricia. and Slater, Michael.
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Exposure and Attention
15

given the problems noted with memory measures, including possible confounding with
motivation-to-process. Moreover, research outside the media field has shown that a stimulus
(message) can affect person perception (e.g., perceptions of smokers) even when the exact nature
of the message is not explicitly remembered (Anderson & Hubert, 1963). Consequently, it could
be argued that memory measures lose some of the predictive power of exposure measures.
Without examination of convergent and discriminant validity of these measures, it is difficult to
infer what the theoretical implications are of these differences. In the meantime, it is best to
sound a cautionary note with respect to use and interpretation of any one exposure measurement
approach, and to recommend when possible triangulation through multiple exposure
measurement techniques.
These results are also provocative with respect to the theoretical and methodological
treatment of the exposure and attention constructs. Methodologically, it is clear that centered
and uncentered treatments of multiplicative effects of exposure and attention yield very different
results. Uncentered multiplicative effects appear to be merely a variant on inclusion of two
additive main effects. They are highly collinear with such effects. At best, they provide a test of
non-linear, geometrically increasing effects as opposed to additive effects (recall that a
multiplicative interaction of two highly correlated variables is very nearly equivalent to
introducing a quadratic term). In such a case, the selection of the lower numerical anchors may
also have substantive implications. For example, it may make some theoretical sense to use a
zero for the low end of an exposure scale (meaning “no exposure”) as effects of attention should
be irrelevant if no exposure has taken place. The converse may not be true: a claim of “no
attention” might be theoretically interpreted to mean minimal processing, but not necessarily


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