Parasocial and Group Attitudes in a Political Context: Does a personable politician improve group acceptance?
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CitationCarrington, Victor. 2020. Parasocial and Group Attitudes in a Political Context: Does a personable politician improve group acceptance?. Master's thesis, Harvard University Division of Continuing Education.
AbstractThis study investigates how exposure to personal narratives of an outgroup leader
may increase positive attitudes toward the leader and, by extension, also her group. To
test this question, the reactions of participants to videos of an opposing party politician,
either relaying personal stories or discussing public and social policies, were compared. I
expected that the attitude toward a politician would become more positive in response to
self-disclosures compared to political discussions. I also expected the change in attitude
to the politician would extend to attitudes about members of the political party because
the relatability of the politician changes the conceptual boundaries that form group
Separate lines of research provide justification for these hypotheses. Research on
group attitudes has generally focused on interracial topics, with one area being attitude
change. Attitude in this context has been shown to become more positive when personal
stories are shared in-person and extends to the represented group. Another line of
research focuses on perceived and imagined relationships with public figures. Attitude
change was shown to occur when messages were attributed to the individual.
In this study, 63 participants completed an online survey. At the start of the
online survey, participants were assigned to groups based on political identity and
randomly assigned to a politician video of either personal or political messages.
Afterward, participants answered assessments on subjective qualities of liability,
trustworthiness, relatability, for both the politician and her party. A one-way ANOVA
was conducted to test the relationship between video response, leader attitude, and party
attitude. Results indicate that the videos were effective at changing leader attitude, but
were inconclusive regarding change in party attitude due to low levels of statistical
power. Refinements to the measures and their implementation and, more importantly, a
larger sample, will allow for more conclusive tests of these hypotheses in the future.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37367676
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