Improving media effects research through better measurement of news exposure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations

Abstract

Survey research is necessary to understand media effects, but seriously impeded by considerable overreporting of news exposure, the extent of which differs across respondents. Consequently, apparent media effects may arise not because of differences in exposure, but because of differences in the accuracy of reporting exposure. Drawing on experiments embedded in two representative surveys, this study examines why many people overstate their exposure to television news. Analysis indicates that overreporting results from unrealistic demands on respondents memory, not their motivation to misrepresent or provide superficial answers. Satisficing and social desirability bias do not explain overreporting. Instead, imperfect recall coupled with the use of flawed inference rules causes inflated self-reports. To lower reports of news exposure and improve the validity of conclusions about media effects, researchers should help respondents with the estimation by providing population frequencies and encouraging comparison with others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)893-908
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume71
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Improving media effects research through better measurement of news exposure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this