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Learning about Politics from The Daily Show: The Role of Processing Motivations
Unformatted Document Text:  Learning from The Daily Show 20 orientation was only marginally significant suggests that the manipulation was not powerful enough to produce the hypothesized effects. This can likely be attributed to the online experimental methods. That is, because viewing objective was manipulated by altering the on- screen text used to introduce the video stimulus, study participants might not have paid as much attention to these instructions as they would have if they had been delivered verbally by a human experimenter. Indeed, in prior research conducted by Salomon and Leigh (1984) and Tewksbury (1999), the manipulation of processing goals and exposure to the media stimulus took place in a laboratory context. Still, given the relatively low salience of the present manipulation, the fact that any interaction was detected suggests that a stronger manipulation would produce even more reliable effects. A second limitation involves the study sample, which was not necessarily representative of the U.S. population or of The Daily Show audience. However, frequency of Daily Show viewing was controlled for in the analyses, and there were no meaningful interactions detected involving this variable. Nonetheless, we must be cautious in generalizing the results beyond the study participants. Likewise, although the reported results were averaged across two different topical messages, it is not clear that the findings would generalize to other messages or political comedy programs. A final limitation involves the causal direction among the processing and learning variables. The cross-sectional nature of variable measurement prohibits firm conclusions regarding the direction of influence flowing from processing orientation to AIME to learning. For example, it is possible that perceptions of learning and invested mental effort led participants to characterize The Daily Show as news rather than the other way around. Despite these limitations, the findings from this study help to illuminate the information processes involved in learning from The Daily Show. Specifically, the results suggest that

Authors: Feldman, Lauren.
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Learning from The Daily Show
20
orientation was only marginally significant suggests that the manipulation was not powerful 
enough to produce the hypothesized effects. This can likely be attributed to the online 
experimental methods. That is, because viewing objective was manipulated by altering the on-
screen text used to introduce the video stimulus, study participants might not have paid as much 
attention to these instructions as they would have if they had been delivered verbally by a human 
experimenter. Indeed, in prior research conducted by Salomon and Leigh (1984) and Tewksbury 
(1999), the manipulation of processing goals and exposure to the media stimulus took place in a 
laboratory context. Still, given the relatively low salience of the present manipulation, the fact 
that any interaction was detected suggests that a stronger manipulation would produce even more 
reliable effects. A second limitation involves the study sample, which was not necessarily 
representative of the U.S. population or of The Daily Show audience. However, frequency of 
Daily Show viewing was controlled for in the analyses, and there were no meaningful 
interactions detected involving this variable. Nonetheless, we must be cautious in generalizing 
the results beyond the study participants. Likewise, although the reported results were averaged 
across two different topical messages, it is not clear that the findings would generalize to other 
messages or political comedy programs. A final limitation involves the causal direction among 
the processing and learning variables. The cross-sectional nature of variable measurement 
prohibits firm conclusions regarding the direction of influence flowing from processing 
orientation to AIME to learning. For example, it is possible that perceptions of learning and 
invested mental effort led participants to characterize The Daily Show as news rather than the 
other way around. 
Despite these limitations, the findings from this study help to illuminate the information 
processes involved in learning from The Daily Show. Specifically, the results suggest that 


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