Setting the tone for political views: How provided information can affect the assessment of current political state of affairs

Faculty/Professorship: General Psychology and Methodology  ; Fakultät Humanwissenschaften: Abschlussarbeiten 
Author(s): Gebauer, Fabian
Publisher Information: Bamberg : opus
Year of publication: 2018
Pages: 112 ; Illustrationen, Diagramme, Karten
Supervisor(s): Carbon, Claus-Christian  ; Rüsseler, Jascha  
Year of first publication: 2017
Language(s): English
Kumulative Dissertation, Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, 2017
DOI: 10.20378/irbo-51291
Licence: Creative Commons - CC BY - Attribution 4.0 International 
URN: urn:nbn:de:bvb:473-opus4-512917
This dissertation investigates how far the content of provided information can affect people‘s attitudes in the space of current political thinking. Specifically, it examines how opinion formation within political conflicts and state of affairs can be biased through varying visual and narrative representations in times of threat and uncertainty. Instead of using fictional scenarios or post-hoc evaluations, the experimental designs were applied to current political affairs and conducted within time frames where opinion formation was rather unsettled than cast in concrete. In doing so, the possibility was created to gather new insights into the assessments of ongoing political state of affairs and how opinion formation can be biased through the lens of available information.
For example, due to the so-called Ukrainian Crisis a heavily waged dispute emerged in 2014 about how to deal with Russia’s infringement of international law (e.g., annexation of Crimea) ranging from economic sanctions to military action. Although a majority of Germans blamed Russia for this crisis, only a minority favored to provide military aid in this conflict. Empirical evidence was found that one-dimensional and threatening depictions (e.g., in news coverage) can alter people’s military attitudes in this reemerging international conflict (Gebauer, Raab, & Carbon, 2016c). Furthermore, results from two experiments demonstrate how seemingly subtle variations of visualizing the political realities in this conflict can shape the political perception and reinforce stereotypical thinking (Gebauer, Raab, & Carbon, 2016a). Additionally, studies have shown that minimal narrative changes in the context of possible political conspiracies—here, the perceived relations between the US and Russia—can affect the conspiratorial reasoning of conspiracy believers and sceptics (Gebauer, Raab, & Carbon, 2016b). Finally, empirical findings will illustrate that rethinking about political issues beyond current international conflicts might be less suggestible and requires more tangible approaches—like hands-on experience—in order to alter people’s political point of view (Gebauer, Vilimek, Keinath, & Carbon, 2016).
The presented findings, therefore, highlight the susceptibility of opinion formation in (re-)emerging political conflicts and its suggestibility through informational descriptions, but do also point to the contextual limitation of persuasiveness—at least in some areas of political rethinking.
GND Keywords: Einstellung; Politische Meinungsbildung; Politische Berichterstattung; Informationskompetenz; Massenkommunikation; Sozialpsychologie; Wahrnehmungspsychologie
Keywords: Experimental Psychology, Political Psychology, Social Issues
DDC Classification: 150 Psychology  
RVK Classification: CP 2000     CP 4000     CV 7500     CV 5000     CV 3600   
Type: Doctoralthesis
Year of publication: 7. June 2018

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