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Deliberation or Small Talk? Motivations for Public Discussion and their Effects on Civic Engagement
Unformatted Document Text:  Motivations for Public Discussion <INSERT TABLE 3> A second set of motivations for having conversations about public affairs are related to social or relational goals, such as spending time with others and getting to know them better. Understanding how these non-civic motivations relate to frequent interpersonal and online discussions separately was the basis of our two research questions (RQ1 and RQ2). The findings reported in Table 3 indicate that social motivations had a significant and positive relationship with both modalities of discussion. These non-civic motivations were about as strongly correlated with face-to-face discussions ( = .303, β p < .001) as civic motivations were, and even more so in the case of online discussions ( = .299, β p < .001). These relationships indicate that social goals can offer an important, alternative route to conversations about public affairs, a finding that we will come back to in the discussion section. The next set of hypotheses (H3 and H4) addressed the relationship between interpersonal and online citizen communication on civic participation, again separately for each modality of communication. To have a more nuanced understanding of the influence of each group of variables on citizens’ breadth of participation in civic activities, Table 4 presents the results of a hierarchical regression model in a step-by-step fashion. The model performed well, accounting for 32% of the variance in civic participation (see Step 5 column). The two most important blocks were news media use and discussion frequency, which is consistent with the citizen communication mediation model of civic engagement (McLeod et al., 1999; Shah, Cho, Eveland, & Kwak, 2005; Shah et al., 2007). In particular, individual differences in interpersonal discussion ( = .192, β p < .05) and online discussion ( = . β 285, p < .001) were positively associated with civic participation, even after taking into account 13

Authors: Valenzuela, Sebastian., Jeong, Sun Ho. and Gil de Zuniga, Homero.
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Motivations for Public Discussion
<INSERT TABLE 3>
A second set of motivations for having conversations about public affairs are related to 
social or relational goals, such as spending time with others and getting to know them better. 
Understanding how these non-civic motivations relate to frequent interpersonal and online 
discussions separately was the basis of our two research questions (RQ1 and RQ2). The findings 
reported in Table 3 indicate that social motivations had a significant and positive relationship with 
both modalities of discussion. These non-civic motivations were about as strongly correlated with 
face-to-face discussions (  = .303, 
β
p < .001) as civic motivations were, and even more so in the 
case of online discussions (  = .299, 
β
p < .001). These relationships indicate that social goals can 
offer an important, alternative route to conversations about public affairs, a finding that we will 
come back to in the discussion section. 
The next set of hypotheses (H3 and H4) addressed the relationship between interpersonal 
and online citizen communication on civic participation, again separately for each modality of 
communication. To have a more nuanced understanding of the influence of each group of 
variables on citizens’ breadth of participation in civic activities, Table 4 presents the results of a 
hierarchical regression model in a step-by-step fashion. 
The model performed well, 
accounting for 32% of the variance in civic participation (see Step 5 column). The two 
most important blocks were news media use and discussion frequency, which is 
consistent with the citizen communication mediation model of civic engagement 
(McLeod et al., 1999; Shah, Cho, Eveland, & Kwak, 2005; Shah et al., 2007). In particular, 
individual differences in interpersonal discussion (  = .192, 
β
p < .05) and online discussion (  = .
β
285, p < .001) were positively associated with civic participation, even after taking into account 
13


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