The media's role in public negativity toward Congress: Distinguishing emotional reactions and cognitive evaluations

John R. Hibbing, Elizabeth Theiss-Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Scopus citations

Abstract

Theory: The nature of political news as presented by the mass media in the modern United States is such that it affects people's emotional reactions more than their cognitive evaluations of political actors and institutions. Hypotheses: People who rely on electronic media for their news and people who consume a great deal of news from the mass media will not be more likely to evaluate Congress negatively but will be more likely to have negative emotional reactions to Congress. Methods: Regression analysis of data from a 1992 national survey (N = 1430) on public attitudes toward political institutions, inter alia. Results: People who primarily obtain their news from television or radio are not any more or less likely to evaluate Congress negatively than are people who primarily obtain their news from newspapers. Similarly, people who are exposed to news a great deal do not evaluate Congress more negatively than those who pay little attention to the news. The same cannot be said for emotional reactions: a primary reliance on television and especially radio for news and a generally heavy exposure to news generate significantly more negative emotions than newspaper use and low exposure to the news.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-498
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Volume42
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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