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Explaining Information Effects in Collective Preferences
Unformatted Document Text:  Since well informed people tend to pay more attention to mass media communications about public affairs than other people (e.g., Price and Zaller 1993; Zaller 1992a) , subtle biases in the way news is constructed or framed may be especially likely to influence the policy preferences adopted by knowledgeable respondents (Krosnick and Brannon 1993) , even though the framing of issues and events in the media also influences the preferences of ill-informed people (Converse 1962; Krosnick and Kinder 1990; Miller and Krosnick 1996) . Knowledgeable citizens are more directly exposed than less attentive people to the opinions of political elites, whose views tend to dominate political news coverage (Bennett 1990; Bennett and Manheim 1993; Epstein 1973; Gans 1979; Sigal 1973; Tuchman 1978) . From this perspective, the direction of “fully informed” opinion relative to surveyed opinion might reflect the contours of elite political debate in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when these surveys were in the field. It may be that simulated opinion is less isolationist when it comes to foreign affairs because mainstream news outlets, at least according to some accounts, emphasize internationalist approaches to foreign policy (Herman and Chomsky 1988; Parenti 1986) . Likewise, the tendency for “fully informed” opinion on governance issues to favor a more libertarian approach to economic regulation might reflect a pro-business economic agenda in news coverage (Bagdikian 1990; Danielian and Page 1994; Herman and Chomsky 1988; Parenti 1986) . The shifts in simulated opinion toward more progressive stances on many domestic policy topics might reflect a liberal tilt to news dealing with social issues (Lichter, Rothman, and Lichter 1986; Rothman and Lichter 1987) . Framing, agenda-setting, and priming effects may thereby contribute to the pattern of differences between actual and “fully informed” opinion, although the influence of these effects on policy preferences is certain to be blunted by the fact that citizens play an active role in negotiating the meaning of the news they see and read (Neuman, Just, and Crigler 1992) . People are clearly not passive receptacles of the information communicated by mass media: the “hypodermic needle” view of media effects has long been discredited (Klapper 1960) . But the issues and perspectives communicated through news coverage can influence policy preferences by directing attention temporarily toward certain issues or by framing issues in particular ways (Iyengar 1991) . When this

Authors: Althaus, Scott.
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Since well informed people tend to pay more attention to mass media communications about
public affairs than other people
(e.g., Price and Zaller 1993; Zaller 1992a)
, subtle biases in the way
news is constructed or framed may be especially likely to influence the policy preferences adopted
by knowledgeable respondents
(Krosnick and Brannon 1993)
, even though the framing of issues
and events in the media also influences the preferences of ill-informed people
(Converse 1962;
Krosnick and Kinder 1990; Miller and Krosnick 1996)
. Knowledgeable citizens are more directly
exposed than less attentive people to the opinions of political elites, whose views tend to dominate
political news coverage
(Bennett 1990; Bennett and Manheim 1993; Epstein 1973; Gans 1979;
Sigal 1973; Tuchman 1978)
. From this perspective, the direction of “fully informed” opinion
relative to surveyed opinion might reflect the contours of elite political debate in the late 1980’s and
early 1990’s when these surveys were in the field. It may be that simulated opinion is less isolationist
when it comes to foreign affairs because mainstream news outlets, at least according to some
accounts, emphasize internationalist approaches to foreign policy
(Herman and Chomsky 1988;
Parenti 1986)
. Likewise, the tendency for “fully informed” opinion on governance issues to favor a
more libertarian approach to economic regulation might reflect a pro-business economic agenda in
news coverage
(Bagdikian 1990; Danielian and Page 1994; Herman and Chomsky 1988; Parenti
1986)
. The shifts in simulated opinion toward more progressive stances on many domestic policy
topics might reflect a liberal tilt to news dealing with social issues
(Lichter, Rothman, and Lichter
1986; Rothman and Lichter 1987)
.
Framing, agenda-setting, and priming effects may thereby contribute to the pattern of
differences between actual and “fully informed” opinion, although the influence of these effects on
policy preferences is certain to be blunted by the fact that citizens play an active role in negotiating
the meaning of the news they see and read
(Neuman, Just, and Crigler 1992)
. People are clearly not
passive receptacles of the information communicated by mass media: the “hypodermic needle” view
of media effects has long been discredited
(Klapper 1960)
. But the issues and perspectives
communicated through news coverage can influence policy preferences by directing attention
temporarily toward certain issues or by framing issues in particular ways
(Iyengar 1991)
. When this


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