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Headlines win elections: Mere exposure to fictitious news media alters voting behavior

  • Repeatedly encountering a stimulus biases the observer’s affective response and evaluation of the stimuli. Here we provide evidence for a causal link between mere exposure to fictitious news reports and subsequent voting behavior. In four pre-registered online experiments, participants browsed through newspaper webpages and were tacitly exposed to names of fictitious politicians. Exposure predicted voting behavior in a subsequent mock election, with a consistent preference for frequent over infrequent names, except when news items were decidedly negative. Follow-up analyses indicated that mere media presence fuels implicit personality theories regarding a candidate’s vigor in political contexts. News outlets should therefore be mindful to cover political candidates as evenly as possible.

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Author:Roland PfisterORCiD, Katharina A. Schwarz, Patricia Holzmann, Moritz ReisORCiD, Kumar YogeeswaranORCiD, Wilfried Kunde
Parent Title (German):PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Place of publication:San Francisco
Document Type:Article
Date of completion:2023/08/01
Date of publication:2023/08/01
Publishing institution:Universität Trier
Contributing corporation:The publication was funded by the Open Access Fund of Universität Trier and the German Research Foundation (DFG)
Release Date:2023/12/12
Volume (for the year ...):2023
Issue / no.:Band 18, Heft 8
Number of pages:14
Institutes:Fachbereich 1 / Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCC BY: Creative-Commons-Lizenz 4.0 International

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