How partisan voters detect deception in polarizing political media

International Communication Association 71st Annual Conference, Political Communication division, Denver, CO, United States.

Abstract: The public considers politicians to be deceptive. Empirical research, however, indicates voters fail to notice deception from politicians in practice. An experiment was run in which U.S. voters (n = 133 Democrats, n = 138 Republicans) watched a partisan news interview featuring a senator. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: a Fox News interviewer accusing (or not accusing) a Democrat of deception, or a CNN interviewer accusing (or not accusing) a Republican of deception. Consistent with truth-default theory (TDT), voters distrusted a politician through elevated suspicion toward the politician, followed by perceiving deceptive messaging. Also in line with TDT, in-group/out-group bias drove perceptions of deception. However, moderated multiple mediator modeling indicated voters reacted the same regardless of whether the media accused the politician of deception.

David Clementson  Tong Xie 

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