Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

November 2007

Publication Source

American Political Science Review

Volume

101

Issue

4

Start Page

621

Last Page

635

DOI

10.1017/S000305540707044X

Abstract

How do Americans acquire the impression that their political foes have some understandable basis for their views, and thus represent a legitimate opposition? How do they come to believe that reasonable people may disagree on any given political controversy? Given that few people talk regularly to those of opposing perspectives, some theorize that mass media, and television in particular, serve as an important source of exposure to the rationales for oppositional views. A series of experimental studies suggests that television does, indeed, have the capacity to encourage greater awareness of oppositional perspectives. However, common characteristics of televised political discourse—–incivility and close-up camera perspectives—–cause audiences to view oppositional perspectives as less legitimate than they would have otherwise. I discuss the broader implications of these findings for assessments of the impact of television on the political process, and for the perspective that televised political discourse provides on oppositional political views.

Copyright/Permission Statement

Copyright © 2002 by the American Political Science Association. Online at Cambridge Journals Online.

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Date Posted: 27 October 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.