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The communicative processes of attempted political persuasion in social media environments : The mediating roles of cognitive elaboration and political orientations

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The purpose of this paper is to investigate the process by which social media news use leads individuals to engage in attempted political persuasion, examining the mediating roles of cognitive elaboration, political knowledge, political efficacy and political interest.


The study relies on a nationally representative two-wave online survey collected before the 2016 US Presidential Election. Serial mediation is tested using the PROCESS macro.


The study finds significant indirect effects of social media news use on political persuasion via cognitive elaboration, political knowledge, political efficacy and political interest.

Research limitations/implications

Causal inferences should be made with caution. While the measurement of cognitive elaboration is based on prior literature, it is a complex mental process that could be measured more directly in future research.

Social implications

The findings imply that social media news use contributes to a potentially discursive environment in which cross-cutting views may drive argumentation. Thus, the study sheds light on how social media contribute to persuasive political conversation.


The study applies the O-S-R-O-R model to political persuasion and highlights the processes of reflection, understanding and elaboration that convert news use into attempted persuasion.
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Keywords: Cognitive elaboration; Political efficacy; Political interest; Political knowledge; Political persuasion on social media; The O-S-R-O-R model

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Communication and Journalism, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel 2: Department of Journalism and Creative Media, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA 3: Department of Media and Communication, Dongguk University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Publication date: August 23, 2019

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