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Media Priming in a Multi-Party Context: A Controlled Naturalistic Study in Political Communication

Wouter van der Brug, Holli A. Semetko and Patti M. Valkenburg
Political Behavior
Vol. 29, No. 1 (Mar., 2007), pp. 115-141
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4500236
Page Count: 27
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Abstract

This study investigates media priming effects in the context of a Summit meeting of European Union (EU) leaders. It differs in four ways from most previous non-experimental priming studies: (1) it provides survey data accompanied by a content analysis of the news, (2) it compares priming effects on evaluations of a number of political leaders, who differed in their visibility in the news, (3) it involves an issue with low salience, and (4) it studies priming effects in the context of a European Parliamentary democracy. The study involves a two-wave panel study (before and after the Summit) on a representative sample of 817 Dutch adults, and a content analysis of the newspaper and television news in the 8 weeks leading up to the Summit meeting. The study shows that media priming effects occur only for the politicians who appeared visible in the news in connection with the issue. The media priming effects were not significantly moderated by political attentiveness or by political knowledge. We also explore the aggregate level consequences of priming for the popularity of leaders, and demonstrate that, as a result of media priming, two politicians became more popular, despite having received a bad press.

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