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The Intended Political Behaviour of the First “Internet Generation”: The Relationship between Media News Exposure and Political Participation

Mergner, Julia (2009) The Intended Political Behaviour of the First “Internet Generation”: The Relationship between Media News Exposure and Political Participation.

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Abstract:Research indicates that an individual’s pattern of media use has a significant influence on the political participation. Therefore, the present study examines the relationship between media news exposure and political participation. The kind of medium used for gathering political information seems to have a differing effect on the political behaviour of an individual. It is suggested that the exposure to television news is related to lower rates of political action due to its reliance on visual images and entertainment values. In contrast, newspapers are said to influence levels of political participation in a positive way because high salience issues can be presented more specifically. The multiple functions of the Internet as a new electronic communication technology leads to an alteration in the way many people gather news as well as participating in politics. Mostly young people are highly involved in the usage of the Internet as a source for information and entertainment purposes. Therefore, we chose for a sample of Dutch and German college students as the first “Internet generation”. We want to examine whether or not the type of medium used (online videos vs. online articles) and the kind of news source (serious vs. non-serious online news sources) have differing effects on the relationship between media news exposure and political participation. Research suggests that interpersonal communication patterns (political community integration and political reflective integration) play a crucial role whether or not an individual is engaged in political action. Further, the theory of planned behaviour by Ajzen (1988) assumes that the attitude, the subjective norm and the perceived behavioural control of an individual towards politics determine the intended political behaviour. A conceptual model was designed based on this theory and the interpersonal communication variables whereas the influence of media news exposure on political participation is mediated by cognitive and environmental factors as well as self-efficacy. A self-administered online questionnaire was distributed via e-mails and student forums during summer 2009. The results reveal that there was no general significant influence of the type of news source used (television, newspapers, Internet). Further, whether the participants gather online news by means of online videos or articles from serious or non-serious news sources seem to have no significant moderating effect, although a stronger negative magnitude was present when using online videos and non-serious news. When testing the conceptual model, the two interpersonal communication variables have a significant mediating influence on the relationship. Several methodological issues limit the attainment of significant results. Therefore, future research should be aware about the importance of a higher number of participants and the inclusion of a content analysis to gain a better insight into the complex relationship between media news exposure and political participation and potential mediating factors.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology BSc (56604)
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