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Political Information Efficacy and News Consumption in Young Citizens Lynda Lee Kaid University of Florida Youth Indifference to News Conference University of Georgia October 8-11, 2006

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Political Information Efficacy and News Consumption in Young Citizens

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Political Information Efficacy and News Consumption in Young Citizens

Lynda Lee Kaid

University of Florida

Youth Indifference to News Conference University of Georgia

October 8-11, 2006


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  • Effects of young citizen’s lack of interest in news and political information and its effects on political involvement—voter turnout and other aspects of civic participation.


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  • Despite increases in turnout for all voter groups in 2004, our young citizens remain our most “care-less” citizens.

  • Generational and life-cycle patterns that have usually led to adopting the voting habit as more mature adults may be lacking in current generations.


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Low Information Levels and Low Involvement

  • Knowledge is an important determinant of electoral and democratic participation (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1996).

  • A strong relationship between young voters' perceptions or confidence in their political knowledge and the likelihood that they will exercise their right to vote.


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Political Information Efficacy (PIE)

  • Extent to which one has confidence that they have the information necessary to participate in politics or to vote (Kaid, McKinney, & Tedesco, 2006).


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Theory of PIE

  • 1. Theoretical Underpinnings

  • 2. How we measure it

  • 3. What evidence we have found for it.

  • 4.How it relates to consumption and processing of various types of communication and media, particularly news.


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Theoretical Underpinnings of PIE

  • External political efficacy relates to “beliefs about the responsiveness of governmental authorities and institutions to citizens’ demands.”

  • Internal political efficacy, is manifested in “beliefs about one’s own competence to understand, and to participate effectively in, politics"

  • (Niemi, Craig, & Mattei, 1991, p. 1407)


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  • Political information efficacy is closely related to internal efficacy but differs in that it focuses solely on the voter's confidence in his/her own political knowledge and its sufficiency to engage the political process (and to vote).

  • Focuses on the Cognitive Elements of Efficacy


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Measurement of PIE

  • 4 item scale: uses 3 from Niemi et al.—5 pt. agree-disagree

  • 1 I consider myself well-qualified to participate in politics.

  • 2. I think that I am better informed about politics and government than most people.

  • 3. I feel that I have a pretty good understanding of the important political issues facing our country.

  • 4. If a friend asked me about the presidential election, I feel would have enough information to help my friend

    figure out who to vote for.


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Testing the Scale in 2004

  • Used in 2004 in experimental studies of campaign message effects with young voters in our UVote team locations (more than 20 universities around the country) with 3269 respondents.

  • In all six experimental waves, a series of 12 items were used to measure aspects of political trust and efficacy.


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Post-Election Analysis

  • 1. Factor analysis shows that the 4 items in our PIE scale always separate into a unique factor which accounts for a substantial amount of the variance in all of the tests.

  • 2. When used together as a scale, these 4 items consistently achieve high Cronbach’s alpha reliability scores ranging from .81 to .92.


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Evidence for Impact of PIE on Voting and Nonvoting

  • Prior to 2004 our earlier research in 2000 and 2002 we have demonstrated two important things related to the PIE concept:

  • With NES data and results from our nationwide experimental studies in 2000 we found that there are clear differences between younger and older voters in their levels of confidence in their knowledge and information and in their consumption of political news (Table 1).


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  • Using NES data in 2000 and 2002, our regression models show that this significantly lower level of information confidence in young people has a significant relationship to voting or not voting, accounting for 6% of the variance in voting in 2000 and almost 10% of the variance in voting in 2002.


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Influence of Communication and Media on PIE in 2004

  • 1. TV Ads: After exposure to TV ads, young citizens were significantly more confident that they had the information they needed for political participation/voting.

    (Kaid, Hendren, Yun, Landreville, & Postelnicu, 2005; Kaid, Landreville, Postelnicu, & Martin, 2005; Kaid & Postelnicu, 2005; Kaid, Postelnicu, Landreville, & LeGrange, 2006-forthcoming)


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  • 2. TV Debates: Debate viewing in 2004 produced significant increases in political information efficacy for a panel of young citizens who were exposed to one of the three presidential debates in 2004.

    (McKinney & Chattopadhyay, 2006-forthcoming).


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  • 3. Internet: Interactive features of the Web can have a significant impact on young citizens’ confidence in their political knowledge and information.

    (Tedesco, 2006)


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Relationship of PIE to Young Citizens’ News Exposure

  • 2598 young citizens who participated in one of 4 experimental groups at more than 20 UVote universities in the U.S. in the fall of 2004.

  • 1. First ad experiment (n = 920) Sept. 28-30

  • 2. Saw First Presidential Debate (n = 570) Sept. 30

  • 3. Saw Third Presidential Debate (n = 358) Oct. 13

  • 4.Second ad experiment(n = 747) Oct. 30-31


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Characteristics of Sample

  • Gender: 42% male; 58% female

  • Age: average 20.4

  • Party ID: 39% Democrats; 37% Republican

    19% Independent; 4% Greens; 1%none

  • Race: 68% White/Caucasian; 12% Hispanic;

    7% Asian; 6% African-Amer.; 7% mixed or other


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Young Citizen’s Characteristics and PIE

PIE Level

  • Gender

  • Male 14.34

  • Female 13.09*

  • Party Affiliation

  • Republican13.82*vs. Indep.

  • Democrat13.82 *vs. Indep.

  • Independent13.01

  • Race

  • White/Caucasian13.89

  • Minority 13.07*

  • African-Am13.60 Caucasian and African-Am not sign. diff

  • Hispanic13.28 Hispanics not diff. from African-Am. but significantly lower than whites

  • Asian11.62 Asians significantly lower than all other groups;


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Predictors of PIE for Young Citizens in 2004

  • 1. Interest in Presid. Campaign

  • 2. Level of Media Exposure about

  • the Campaign in Last Week

  • 3. Information from News and Nonpartisan Sources on Internet

  • 4. --Female


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  • 5. Days a Week Watching National

  • Network News

  • 6. Watched All Three Presid. Debates

  • 7. --Watching News on Local TV

  • 8. --Hours a Day Spent on the Internet

  • 9. Listening to Political Talk Radio

    Forward Multiple Linear Regression R2 = .48

    (Controlled for Political Party ID, Race, Newspaper exposure, speaking with others, radio news, watching the Daily Show)


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PIE and Voting in 2004

  • Post-election Web Survey of 227 young citizens who participated in one of the experimental sessions during 2004

    VotedDid not vote

  • Information Efficacy Level15.67 13.88*

    p< . 001


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Internet News and PIE

  • Correlation between PIE and frequency of turning to WWW to decide how to vote:R = .25*

  • Correlations between Information Efficacy Level and Usefulness of Information Sources on Web

  • George Bush’s Web site.17*

  • John Kerry’s Web site.23*

  • ABC News Web site.10

  • NBC News Web site.10

  • CBS News Web site.02

  • FOX News Web site.09

  • CNN News Web site.21*

  • USA Today News Web site.10

  • NYT News Web site.18*


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