Title

Effects of order and proportion of positive scenes in broadcast news on memory, candidate evaluation, and voting intention

Date of Award

6-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mass Communications

Advisor(s)

Pamela J. Shoemaker

Keywords

Positive scenes, Broadcast news, Memory, Candidate evaluation, Voting intention, News

Subject Categories

Journalism Studies | Mass Communication | Political Science

Abstract

When positive and negative information about a candidate is discussed in a story, the position of positive information within a story may influence people's perception of the candidate. Whether the candidate is praised at the beginning of a story and then criticized at the end, or criticized at the beginning and praised at the end of a story, may influence how the candidate is evaluated. Similarly, the proportion of positive and negative information discussed in the story may influence candidate evaluation. This study examines how the order and proportion of positive scenes within a story influence people's memory, attitude toward candidate and voting intention for the candidate. The two independent variables are the order of positive scenes and the proportion of positive scenes, and the dependent variables are recognition, free recall memory, attitude toward the candidates and voting intention for the candidates.

The results of an experiment indicate that primacy prevails over recency effects in broadcast news stories. Stories that begin with positive scenes resulted in better memory of positive scenes than stories that begin with negative scenes. Stories that begin with positive scenes produced better evaluation and higher voting intention for the candidates than stories that end with positive scenes. This finding is consistent with persuasion, impression formation, online and memory-based theories of message processing.

The study also shows proportion effects. As the proportion of positive scenes within a story increase, people have better memory of those positive scenes, which leads to better evaluation and higher voting intention for the candidates.

The interaction of the order and the proportion of positive scenes indicates that when the proportion of positive scenes is either high or low, people judge political candidates based on the proportion of positive scenes, but when the proportion of positive and negative scenes is equal, people form impressions of candidates based on the early scenes, which results in primacy effects.

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