Date of this Version
This study considers competing theories concerning the role of mass media in hindering or facilitating the translation of personal experience into political preferences. Using national survey and media content data that allows evaluations of both media coverage and individual patterns of media use, this study evaluates the influence of mass media on the direct impact of personal experiences on presidential performance as Ronald Reagan completed his second term in office, and on the indirect impact of personal experiences by means of their impact on collective-level issue judgments. Exposure to unemployment news appears to strengthen the impact of personal experiences on presidential performance ratings. Heavy unemployment coverage also increases the extent to which perceptions of national unemployment conditions are generalized from personal experience. Overall, results suggest that mass media may counter the tendency to morselize personal experiences and help legitimize the translation of private interests into political attitudes.
mass media, politics
Date Posted: 29 September 2010
This document has been peer reviewed.