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The Media's Role in Public Negativity Toward Congress: Distinguishing Emotional Reactions and Cognitive Evaluations

John R. Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 42, No. 2 (Apr., 1998), pp. 475-498
DOI: 10.2307/2991767
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2991767
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Media's Role in Public Negativity Toward Congress: Distinguishing Emotional Reactions and Cognitive Evaluations
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Abstract

Theory: The nature of political news as presented by the mass media in the modern United States is such that it affects people's emotional reactions more than their cognitive evaluations of political actors and institutions. Hypotheses: People who rely on electronic media for their news and people who consume a great deal of news from the mass media will not be more likely to evaluate Congress negatively but will be more likely to have negative emotional reactions to Congress. Methods: Regression analysis of data from a 1992 national survey (N = 1430) on public attitudes toward political institutions, inter alia. Results: People who primarily obtain their news from television or radio are not any more or less likely to evaluate Congress negatively than are people who primarily obtain their news from newspapers. Similarly, people who are exposed to news a great deal do not evaluate Congress more negatively than those who pay little attention to the news. The same cannot be said for emotional reactions: a primary reliance on television and especially radio for news and a generally heavy exposure to news generate significantly more negative emotions than newspaper use and low exposure to the news.

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