Political Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 377–399 | Cite as

Media Consumption and the Dynamics of Policy Mood

  • Tyler Johnson
  • Paul M. Kellstedt
Original Paper


Research has detailed the potential link between exposure to the mass media and the process of developing attitudes. Less examined, however, are the consequences of differing levels of media consumption on the nature of attitudes at both the individual and aggregate levels. This paper assesses the relationship between media consumption and public opinion in the U.S. (expressed through the macro concept of Policy Mood and an analogous micro concept we call policy liberalism). At the individual level, we find that increased levels of newspaper readership reduce variance in opinion, but that increased levels of television viewership do not. At the aggregate level, our results show that the opinions of media-consuming subgroups move in parallel for the most part, with similar causal dynamics. A slight exception to this parallelism lies with those who barely, if ever, read newspapers.


Media consumption Public opinion Policy Mood Micro and macro opinion 


  1. Anderson, C. J., & O’Connor, K. M. (2000). System change, learning, and public opinion about the economy. British Journal of Political Science, 30, 147–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Binkley, J. K., & Nelson, C. H. (1988). A note on the efficiency of seemingly unrelated regression. The American Statistician, 42, 137–139.Google Scholar
  3. Brians, C., & Wattenberg, M. (1996). Campaign issue knowledge and salience: comparing commercials, TV news, and newspapers. American Journal of Political Science, 40, 172–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carpini, M. X. D., & Keeter, S. (1996). What Americans know about politics and why it matters. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Converse, P. E. (1962). Information flow and the stability of partisan attitudes. Public Opinion Quarterly, 26, 578–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Druckman, J. N. (2001). On the limits of framing effects: who can frame? The Journal of Politics, 63, 1041–1066.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Druckman, J. N., & Nelson, K. R. (2003). Framing and deliberation: how citizens’ conversations limit elite influence. American Journal of Political Science, 47, 729–745.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Enns, P. K., & Kellstedt, P. M. (2008). Policy mood and political sophistication: why everybody moves mood. British Journal of Political Science, 38, 433–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Enns, P. K., & Wlezien, C. (2011). Who gets represented?. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  10. Erikson, R. S., MacKuen, M. B., & Stimson, J. A. (2002). The macro polity. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Erikson, R. S., & Tedin, K. L. (2011). American public opinion (8th ed.). Boston: Longman.Google Scholar
  12. Franklin, C. H. (1991). Eschewing obfuscation? Campaigns and the perception of U.S. Senate incumbents. American Political Science Review, 85, 1193–1214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Graber, D. (2010). Mass media and American politics (8th ed.). Washington D.C.: CQ.Google Scholar
  14. Huckfeldt, R. R., Beck, P. A., Dalton, R. J., & Levine, J. (1995). Political environments, cohesive social groups, and the communication of public opinion. American Journal of Political Science, 39, 1025–1054.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hutchings, V. L., McClerking, H. K., & Charles, G. (2004). Congressional representation of black interests: recognizing the importance of stability. The Journal of Politics, 66, 450–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Iyengar, S., & Kinder, D. R. (1987). News that matters: television and American opinion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  17. Jacoby, W. G. (2006). Value choices and American public opinion. American Journal of Political Science, 50, 706–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Keele, L., & Park, D. K. (2006). Difficult choices: an evaluation of heterogeneous choice models. Chicago: Paper prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. 2004.Google Scholar
  19. Kellstedt, P. M. (2003). The mass media and the dynamics of American racial attitudes. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kellstedt, P. M., Peterson, D. A. M., & Ramirez, M. D. (2010). The macro politics of a gender gap. Public Opinion Quarterly, 74, 477–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kinder, D. R., & Sears, D. O. (1985). Public opinion and political action. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  22. Lazarsfeld, P., Berelson, B. R., & Gaudet, H. (1948). The people’s choice: how the voter makes up his mind in a presidential campaign. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  23. McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. (1972). The agenda setting function of the mass media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 36, 176–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McGuire, W. J. (1969). The nature of attitudes and attitude change. In G. Lindzey & E. Aronson (Eds.), The handbook of social psychology. Reading: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  25. Nelson, T. E., Clawson, R. A., & Oxley, Z. M. (1997). Media framing of a civil liberties conflict and its effect on tolerance. American Political Science Review, 91, 567–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Nelson, T. E., & Oxley, Z. M. (1999). Toward a psychology of framing effects. Political Behavior, 19, 221–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Page, B. I., & Shapiro, R. Y. (1992). The rational public: fifty years of trends in Americans’ policy preferences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Page, B. I., Shapiro, R. Y., & Dempsey, G. (1987). What moves public opinion? American Political Science Review, 81, 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Patterson, T. E., & McClure, R. D. (1976). The unseeing eye: the myth of television power in national elections. New York: Putnam.Google Scholar
  30. Petty, R., & Cacioppo, J. (1981). Attitudes and persuasion: classic and contemporary approaches. Dubuque: William C. Brown.Google Scholar
  31. Soroka, S. N. (2006). Good news and bad news: asymmetric responses to economic information. The Journal of Politics, 68, 372–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stimson, J. A. (1999). Public opinion in America: moods, cycles, and swings (2nd ed.). Boulder: Westview.Google Scholar
  33. Stimson, J. A. (2002). The micro foundations of mood. In J. H. Kuklinski (Ed.), Thinking about political psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Tolbert, C., & McNeal, R. (2003). Unraveling the effects of the internet on political participation. Political Research Quarterly, 56, 175–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ura, J.D., & Ellis, C.R. (2008). Income, preferences, and the dynamics of policy responsiveness. PS: Political Science and Politics, 41, 785–794.Google Scholar
  36. Ura, J. D., & Ellis, C. R. (2012). Partisan moods: polarization and the dynamics of mass party preferences. The Journal of Politics, 74, 277–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Watts, D. J., & Dodds, P. S. (2007). Influentials, networks, and public opinion formation. Journal of Consumer Research, 34, 441–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zaller, J. R. (1992). The nature and origins of mass opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Zellner, A. (1962). An efficient method of estimating seemingly unrelated regressions and tests for aggregation bias. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 57, 348–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Zellner, A. (1963). Estimators for seemingly unrelated regression equations: some exact finite sample results. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 58, 977–992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceThe University of OklahomaNormanUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

Personalised recommendations