Predicting pluralistic ignorance : The hostile media perception and its consequences

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)688-701
Journal / PublicationJournalism and Mass Communication Quaterly
Volume78
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes

Abstract

This study focused on media coverage of a controversial issue - the use of primates in laboratory research - to examine pluralistic ignorance, the potential for public misjudgment of public opinion. We hypothesized that people on both sides of the issue would find news coverage relatively disagreeable to their own point of view (the relative hostile media perception). We also expected to find that perceived public opinion would be influenced by personal opinions (the projection bias) and by perceived news slant (the persuasive press inference) and that, because of the hostile media perception, these latter two factors would push perceived public opinion in contrary directions. Data from a national probability sample (N=402) indicated support for all three hypotheses. In addition, along with an aggregate perception of unfavorable news coverage we found that people substantially overestimated public opposition to the use of primates in research. The results suggest that perceptions of the slant of press coverage can predict collective misjudgments of public opinion.