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The Power of Television Images: The First Kennedy-Nixon Debate Revisited

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How does television affect political behavior? I address this question by describing an experiment where participants either watched a televised version of the first Kennedy-Nixon debate or listened to an audio version. I used this debate in part because despite popular conceptions, there is no extant evidence that television images had any impact on audience reactions. I find that television images have significant effects—they affect overall debate evaluations, prime people to rely more on personality perceptions in their evaluations, and enhance what people learn. Television images matter in politics, and may have indeed played an important role in the first Kennedy-Nixon debate.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-05-01

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