Television Effects and Voter Decision Making in Australia: A Re-examination of the Converse Model

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Abstract

Australian data are used in this article to re-examine Converse's thesis that the mass media's electoral effects are felt most strongly amongst voters with the lowest levels of political interest and awareness. Non-participation of many such voters in voluntary electoral systems obscures the full complexity of television's influence in voters' decision making. Australia's compulsory electoral system, however, by forcing the least interested to vote, crystallizes further distinctions in the patterns of media effects in the electorate. Results show that voters with the lowest levels of prior political awareness are the most responsive to effects of overall television news exposure, and they employ those media cues in their vote decisions late in the campaign. At the same time, voters with moderate levels of political interest are more susceptible to absorbing television's issue agenda, but do not use those issue-based cues to change their vote.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)663-690
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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