Social Influence in Televised Election Debates: A Potental Distorion of Democarcy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

A recent innovation in televised election debates is a continuous response measure (commonly referred to as the “worm”) that allows viewers to track the response of a sample of undecided voters in real-time. A potential danger of presenting such data is that it may prevent people from making independent evaluations. We report an experiment with 150 participants in which we manipulated the worm and superimposed it on a live broadcast of a UK election debate. The majority of viewers were unaware that the worm had been manipulated, and yet we were able to influence their perception of who won the debate, their choice of preferred prime minister, and their voting intentions. We argue that there is an urgent need to reconsider the simultaneous broadcast of average response data with televised election debates.
Translated title of the contributionSocial Influence in Televised Election Debates: A Potental Distorion of Democarcy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1815 - e1815
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

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