Skip to main content

Media Content and Political Behavior in Observational Research: A Critical Assessment


This article discusses possible issues of how media content and exposure were linked in previous research. It argues that the original conclusions of the article ‘Who's Afraid of Conflict? The Mobilizing Effect of Conflict Framing in Campaign News’ do not hold due to the chosen operationalization. It also demonstrates that using the proposed methodology, both exposure to conflictual and non-conflictual news yield the same substantive conclusion. In addition to re-evaluating the role of conflict, the article contributes to the discussion on how to integrate media and individual-level measures in the study of electoral behavior.

Hide All

University of Southern Denmark (emails, As both authors contributed equally, please address correspondence to both. We are grateful for comments by Martin Ejnar Hansen, Christian Schnaudt, Federico Vegetti and anonymous reviewers at the journal. Data replication sets are available at: and online appendices at

Hide All
Barabas Jason, and Jerit Jennifer. 2009. Estimating the Causal Effects of Media Coverage on Policy-Specific Knowledge. American Journal of Political Science 53 (1):7389.
Barabas Jason, Jerit Jennifer, Pollock William, Banducci Susan, Stevens Daniel, and Schoonvelde Martijn. 2014. Generalizing the Study of Media Effects across Research Designs, Countries, Time, Issues, and Outcomes. Paper prepared for the 2014 Annual Conference of the Southern Political Science Association, New Orleans, 9–11 January.
Bartels Larry M. 1993. Messages Received: The Political Impact of Media Exposure. American Political Science Review 87 (2):267285.
Chong Dennis, and Druckman James N.. 2007. Framing Theory. Annual Review of Political Science 10:103126.
Dilliplane Susanna. 2014. Activation, Conversion, or Reinforcement? The Impact of Partisan News Exposure on Vote Choice. American Journal of Political Science 58 (1):7994.
Dilliplane Susanna, Goldman Seth K., and Mutz Diana C.. 2013. Televised Exposure to Politics: New Measures for a Fragmented Media Environment. American Journal of Political Science 57 (1):236248.
Enders Craig K., and Tofighi Davood. 2007. Centering Predictor Variables in Cross-Sectional Multilevel Models: A New Look at an Old Issue. Psychological Methods 12 (2):121138.
LaCour Michael J., and Vavreck Lynn. 2014. Improving Media Measurement: Evidence from the Field. Political Communication 31 (3):408420.
Ladd Jonathan M., and Lenz Gabriel S.. 2009. Exploiting a Rare Communication Shift to Document the Persuasive Power of the News Media. American Journal of Political Science 53 (2):394410.
Newton Kenneth. 1999. Mass Media Effects: Mobilization or Media Malaise? British Journal of Political Science 29 (4):577599.
Prior Markus. 2009. Improving Media Effects Research Through Better Measurement of News Exposure. Journal of Politics 71 (3):893908.
Schuck Andreas R.T., Boomgaarden Hajo G., and de Vreese Claes H.. 2013. Cynics All Around? The Impact of Election News on Political Cynicism in Comparative Perspective. Journal of Communication 63 (2):287311.
Schuck Andreas R.T., Vliegenthart Rens, and de Vreese Claes H.. 2014. Who’s Afraid of Conflict? The Mobilizing Effect of Conflict Framing in Campaign News. British Journal of Political Science.
Schuck Andreas R.T., Xezonakis Georgios, Banducci Susan A., and de Vreese Claes H.. 2010. EES (2009). Media Study Data Advance Release Documentation, technical report, 31 March, accessed 4 December 2014.
Slater Michael D. 2004. Operationalizing and Analyzing Exposure: The Foundation of Media Effects Research. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 81 (1):168183.
Vreese Claes H. de, and Semetko Holli A.. 2002. Cynical and Engaged: Strategic Campaign Coverage, Public Opinion, and Mobilization in a Referendum. Communication Research 29 (6):615641.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Fazekas and Larsen supplementary material S1

 PDF (511 KB)
511 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 20
Total number of PDF views: 136 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 426 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.