- The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication
- Political Communication: Then, Now, and Beyond
- Creating the Hybrid Field of Political Communication: A Five-Decade-Long Evolution of the Concept of Effects
- The Shape of Political Communication
- A Typology of Media Effects
- The Power of Political Communication
- Nowhere to Go: Some Dilemmas of Deliberative Democracy
- How to Think Normatively About News and Democracy
- Not a Fourth Estate but a Second Legislature
- Presidential Address
- Political Messages and Partisanship
- Political Advertising
- Political Campaign Debates
- Niche Communication in Political Campaigns
- The Functional Theory of Political Campaign Communication
- The Political Uses and Abuses of Civility and Incivility
- The Politics of Memory
- Two-Step Flow, Diffusion, and the Role of Social Networks in Political Communication
- Taking Interdependence Seriously: Platforms for Understanding Political Communication
- Disagreement in Political Discussion
- The Internal Dynamics and Political Power of Small Group Political Deliberation
- Ethnography of Politics and Political Communication: Studies in Sociology and Political Science
- Self-censorship, the Spiral of Silence, and Contemporary Political Communication
- Collective Intelligence: The Wisdom and Foolishness of Deliberating Groups
- Broadcasting versus Narrowcasting: Do Mass Media Exist in the Twenty-First Century?
- Online News Consumption in the United States and Ideological Extremism
- New Media and Political Campaigns
- Political Discussion and Deliberation Online
- The Political Effects of Entertainment Media
- Theories and Effects of Political Humor: Discounting Cues, Gateways, and the Impact of Incongruities
- Music as Political Communication
- Conditions for Political Accountability in a High-Choice Media Environment
- Political Communication: Looking Ahead
Abstract and Keywords
Most scholars agree that the effects of mass communication are more than minimal. We find, however, that most communication effects are short-lived, involve mainly weakly held attitudes, and produce no political consequences. Party cues conveyed in mass communication can change attitudes, but usually weakly held ones; when individuals hold strong views, they often change parties rather than change attitudes. Non-partisan communication may not durably change any attitudes, even weakly held ones. These conclusions, derived from field studies rather than laboratory experiments, raise the old minimal effects question in a new form: How politically important are the effects of mass communication? Our answer is that it depends on context. Short-term communication effects can be quite consequential if they occur close to a relevant political decision, such as an election or congressional vote. Communication that continues over a long period of time, such as messages carrying the value of racial equality, may also be important. Short-term or episodic communication that aims to produce a generally informed citizenry, independent of any political decision, may have little importance.
Michael Tesler (Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, 2011) is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Brown University. His research interests include public opinion, voting behavior, political psychology, and racial politics. He is co-author of Obama's Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America (2010: University of Chicago Press), and principal investigator of several academic surveys.
John Zaller (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 1984) is a professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion and co-author of The Party Decides: Presidential Nominations Before and After Reform.
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