Aleks sent along this article that suggests that debate-watchers are influenced by crowd noise and feedback graphics:

“We don’t realize how much we are influenced by other people,” said Steven Fein, a social psychology professor at Williams College who has used footage from presidential debates in experiments examining how voters might be swayed. “We can’t ignore what we think other people think.” . . .

Two studies published in the last two years suggest continuous-reaction graphs can affect opinions — at least in an experimental setting. In one, led by a researcher at Emory University, 253 college students evaluated “American Idol”-like performances with fake audience feedback superimposed on screen. Those who saw negative reactions themselves viewed the performances more negatively.

In a study conducted by Dr. Fein, 94 college students used dial-meters while watching a 10-minute excerpt of a 1984 debate between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale with on-screen feedback manipulated to favor one candidate or the other. Those who saw pro-Reagan feedback were 2.8 times more likely to say they would have voted for Mr. Reagan than those in the Mondale group; in the pro-Mondale group, participants were 1.8 times more likely to say they would have voted for Mr. Mondale.

But does this have any appreciable impact on the election. That, I don’t know.

1 thought on “Feedback

  1. To connect it to election results, the next step is to combine this with studies of partisan perceptions of "neutral" broadcasts. The personal adjustment factor, connected with the social factor, might give us an idea of how the media can indirectly affect an election result.

    For the actual outcome on an election, can we think of any way to get a reasonable exit-poll-like sample and measure social and partisan connection? Definitely not cheaply.

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