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Title:Contextual priming effects in the reception and evaluation of news events
Author(s):Goya Martinez, Mariana
Director of Research:Nerone, John C.; Brewer, William F.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nerone, John C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Brewer, William F.; Barnhurst, Kevin G.; Tewksbury, David H.; Althaus, Scott L.
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Context effects
Priming
News
Juxtaposition
Media effects
Contexts
Framing
Assimilation
Contrast
Abstract:Juxtaposition is a complex phenomenon that exists abundantly in media messages, at least since early newspapers. Nevertheless, while many studies focus in the effects of news and while the research on context effects is broad, studies about context effects in news reception are scarce. A hypothesis proposed by media critics suggests that the juxtaposition of news –especially the mixing of tragic and trivial content– fosters trivialization. In the present thesis, I explore how the evaluation of news –in terms of importance, interest, and potential participation– changes when an event is presented without and with spatial juxtaposition, and in different priming conditions. An analysis of 2299 observations, in which 425 individuals participated in the evaluation of 60 pairs of news stories from three different content categories and importance levels, shows that there are significant contexts effects due to news juxtaposition. While there is a large trend toward assimilation, results show that –against criticisms– the combination of tragic and trivial news fosters contrast, whereas the combination of tragic with other tragic or serious news stories fosters assimilation. Experimental results are compared to a theoretical model to test its predictions regarding the effects of juxtaposition in the evaluation of stimuli. Media not only affect the amount and kind of information that individuals get about events, but also how they cognitively represent them and the contextual stimuli with which they mentally compare them. Even when they have been overlooked in political communication research, news contexts, as proved in the present study, affect how individuals evaluate news events in terms of importance, interest, and their potential participation on them. Juxtaposition, hence, affects news perception and different contexts activate different mental representations that promote different interpretations and evaluations of news events. Context effects in news reception add evidence to the research finding that human evaluations are relative and vulnerable to media effects, since messages and their contexts affect the recency and frequency with which mental representations are activated.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/45374
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Mariana Goya Martinez
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08


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