Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Pashler and Heriot on Perceptions of Newsworthiness and Political Usefulness Biases @hpashler @GailHeriot

Hal Pashler, University of California, San Diego, Department of Psychology, and Gail L. Heriot, University of San Diego School of Law, have published Perceptions of Newsworthiness are Contaminated by a Political Usefulness Bias as San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 18-355. Here is the abstract.


Are people’s perceptions of the newsworthiness of events biased by a tendency to rate as more important any news story that seems likely to lead others to share their own political attitudes? To assess this, we created six pairs of hypothetical news stories, each describing an event that seemed likely to encourage people to adopt attitudes on the opposite side of a particular controversial issue (e.g. affirmative action and gay marriage). In total, 569 subjects were asked to evaluate the importance of these stories ‘to the readership of a generalcirculation newspaper’, disregarding how interesting they happened to find the event. Subjects later indicated their own personal attitudes to the underlying political issues. Predicted crossover interactions were confirmed for all six issues. All the interactions took the form of subjects rating stories offering ‘ammunition’ for their own side of the controversial issue as possessing greater intrinsic news importance.


Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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