Published on June 10th, 2015

For their latest collaboration, teams from the Center for Media Engagement and the National Institute for Civil Discourse conducted an experiment that tested whether having facts (verified information about an issue), background information that included pro and con arguments, or both affected study participants’ thoughts and behaviors.

Our research found that people are more willing to get involved in political discussion when they’re provided with background information containing pro and con arguments.

Other results featured in the report include:

  • Background information containing pro and con arguments made participants feel 7 percent calmer and more satisfied than factual information.
  • When participants thought that the discussion would be civil, they expressed more interest in returning to the site.
  • When participants thought that the information was accurate and the site was balanced, they expressed more interest in returning to the site.

Researchers

  • Cynthia Peacock

    Cynthia Peacock
    Faculty Research Associate

    Cynthia Peacock (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) will be starting in fall 2016 as an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies department at the University of Alabama. She is interested in political communication and news and social media use. Her most recent research investigates the contexts in which people express and avoid expressing their political opinions, and the ways in which diverse opinion expression and disagreement take place in politically homogeneous and heterogeneous groups.

  • Alex Curry

    Alex Curry
    Research Associate

    Alex Curry (MA, Brigham Young University) is a doctoral student in communication studies and an assistant instructor at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include political communication and civic engagement, and he is particularly interested in how politicians use their own personal involvement with sports as a way to connect with voters. From 2005 to 2010, he served as a writer for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. When he’s not studying, Alex enjoys hiking with his wife and four children.

  • Arielle Cardona

    Arielle Cardona
    Research Associate

    Arielle Cardona (MA, University of Texas at Austin) worked for the Center for Media Engagement from 2014 to 2015. She is a recent graduate of the UT Communication Studies program, where she studied women in politics and online political discourse. Prior to her MA, Arielle received her bachelor’s degree in communications at the University of Arizona.

  • Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud

    Natalie (Talia) Jomini Stroud
    Director

    Talia Stroud (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is the Director of the Center for Media Engagement and Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book, Niche News (Oxford, 2011), examines likeminded political media use and inspired this project. The book received the 2012 Outstanding Book Award from the International Communication Association. Stroud previously worked at the Annenberg Public Policy Center; the name of this project is a H/T to Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s “E4″ work with local news in the 2002 midterms.