Social Influence on Political Judgments: The Case of Presidential Debates

Social Influence on Political Judgments: The Case of Presidential Debates Four experiments investigated the extent to which judgments of candidate performance in presidential debates could be influenced by the mere knowledge of others’ reactions. In Experiments 1 and 2 participants watched an intact version of a debate or an edited version in which either “soundbite” one‐liners or the audience reaction to those soundbites were removed. In Experiment 3 participants saw what was supposedly the reaction of their fellow participants on screen during the debate. Participants in Experiment 4 were exposed to the reactions of live confederates as they watched the last debate of an active presidential campaign. In all studies, audience reactions produced large shifts in participants’ judgments of performance. The results illustrate the power of social context to strongly influence individuals’ judgments of even large amounts of relevant, important information, and they support the categorization of presidential debates as ambiguous stimuli, fertile ground for informational social influence. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Political Psychology Wiley

Social Influence on Political Judgments: The Case of Presidential Debates

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0162-895X
eISSN
1467-9221
DOI
10.1111/j.1467-9221.2007.00561.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Four experiments investigated the extent to which judgments of candidate performance in presidential debates could be influenced by the mere knowledge of others’ reactions. In Experiments 1 and 2 participants watched an intact version of a debate or an edited version in which either “soundbite” one‐liners or the audience reaction to those soundbites were removed. In Experiment 3 participants saw what was supposedly the reaction of their fellow participants on screen during the debate. Participants in Experiment 4 were exposed to the reactions of live confederates as they watched the last debate of an active presidential campaign. In all studies, audience reactions produced large shifts in participants’ judgments of performance. The results illustrate the power of social context to strongly influence individuals’ judgments of even large amounts of relevant, important information, and they support the categorization of presidential debates as ambiguous stimuli, fertile ground for informational social influence.

Journal

Political PsychologyWiley

Published: Apr 1, 2007

References

  • The warm‐cold variable in first impressions of persons
    Kelley, Kelley
  • Spin (and pitch) doctors: Campaign strategies in televised political debates
    Norton, Norton; Goethals, Goethals

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