Debates, Media and Social Networks: How Interpersonal and Mass Communication Affected the Evaluation of the Televised Debates in the 2002 German Election.
While research on televised debates predominantly focuses on their direct impact on voters' political beliefs and behavioral intentions, the question of whether debate effects are stable over time has been largely ignored. With data collected in the context of the 2002 German televised debates we demonstrate that evaluations of the candidates' debate performances are highly instable. The reason is that voters compare their own perceptions to the views represented in their social networks and the interpretations provided by the mass media. To avoid dissonances, they adjust their opinions in accordance with the other information channels. While interpersonal communication is more important for the adjustment process after the first debate, mass communication had a greater impact in the context of the second debate.
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