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Framing, Deliberation, and Opinions about Campaign Finance Reform

Public opinion research demonstrates that citizens’ opinions depend on elite rhetoric and interpersonal conversations. Yet we continue to have little idea about how these two forces interact with one another. In this paper, authors James N. Druckman and Kjersten R. Nelson address this issue by experimentally examining how interpersonal conversations affect (prior) elite framing effects. Focusing on opinions about campaign finance reform, the authors find that conversations among like-minded people have no effect on elite framing, but conversations that include conflicting perspectives eliminate elite framing effects.

The authors also introduce a new individual level moderator of framing effects called “need to evaluate” and the authors show that framing effects, in general, tend to be short-lived phenomena. In the end, the authors clarify when elites can and cannot use framing to influence public opinion, and how interpersonal conversations affect this process.

Also check out Druckman’s extensive curriculum vitae at http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~jnd260/cv.pdf.

Paper presented at the Political Psychology and Behavior Workshop, Center for Basic Research in the Social Sciences, Harvard University, December 5 (2002). druckman@northwestern.edu

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