Ambivalence Reduction and Polarization in the Campaign Information Environment: The Interaction Between Individual- and Contextual-Level Influences

Young Mie Kim, Ming Wang, Melissa R. Gotlieb, Itay Gabay, Stephanie Edgerly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines how the campaign information environment influences individuals' ambivalence reduction and polarization. Based on the 2008 presidential television campaign advertising data and individuals' electoral behavior data in 208 designated market areas nationwide, this study utilizes multilevel modeling to better understand the interactions between the effects of individual-level predispositions and that of the contextual-level campaign information environment. The findings of the study indicate that the campaign information environment does matter in ambivalence reduction and polarization. Individuals living in a media market where the volume of campaign advertising is relatively high are less ambivalent and more polarized in candidate evaluations. The patterns appear to be amplified among partisans, suggesting the campaign information environment functions as a "motivator." The partisan bias of the ads in a media market, however, exerts only limited influence. The implications for the functioning of democracy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-416
Number of pages29
JournalCommunication Research
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Keywords

  • ambivalence
  • ambivalence reduction
  • campaign information environment
  • multilevel modeling
  • polarization
  • political advertising

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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