|Title||Politicians’ Use of Uncivil and Simplified Communication: Decreasing Political Trust, Increasing Persuasive Power?|
|C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale||
In recent years, concerns have been raised repeatedly about the simplified and disrespectful way in which politicians often express their ideas (Massaro & Stryker, 2012; Zarefsky, 1992). This political communication style runs counter to democratic virtues such as well-justified arguments and respectful interactions. Its use is therefore problematic from a normative point of view, yet there are indications that it is an effective communication style to persuade citizens.
The goal of the present project is to investigate this tension and study the effects of politicians’ uncivil and simplified debating style on 1) citizens’ level of trust in politics, and 2) politicians’ effectiveness to persuade citizens. We expect to find tensions as communication styles that are effective for politicians to persuade voters might not be beneficial to the evaluation of trustworthiness of the politician and political system (see e.g. Mutz & Reeves, 2005). Moreover, we expect these relationships to be moderated by individual level characteristics such as political cynicism and education level (see below, and see preregistration analysis plan for more details, pp. 4-7).
|C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?||
Main effects: First, we look at the effects of incivility and simplification separately:
H2a: Politicians’ use of simplified arguments leads to lower levels of trust in politics than well-justified arguments.
Second, the tension we expect to observe might be stronger when both elements are present in one political speech. In other words, we do not only compare uncivil versus civil communication, and simplified versus well-justified communication. We also compare political communication that is both uncivil and simplified to communication that is both civil and well-justified. The reason is that we expect effects to be stronger when politicians use a debating style that is both uncivil and simplified, because this means that politicians violate social norms twice:
Perspective Inclusiveness (= level of importance citizens attach to the inclusion and discussion of different perspectives in political debate)
|C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *||
A between subjects online survey experiment with four conditions – 2 (civil vs. uncivil) x 2 (simplified vs. well-justified) – is designed to test these hypotheses. Participants are randomly assigned to one of these conditions. In each condition participants are asked to listen to a fictional fragment from a political debate. Two politicians are debating each other. The communication style of one politician is manipulated across each condition:
To test hypotheses 1a and 1b, conditions 1 and 2 are compared.
|C5 Scale (# of Units)||Pilot: N=100 Survey experiment: N=1100|
|C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection?||Yes|
|C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval?||Yes|
|C8 IRB Number||G- 2017 08 879|
|C9 Date of IRB Approval||18/08/2017|
|C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party?||Researchers|
|C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research?||not provided by authors|
|C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published?||not provided by authors|
|C13 JEL Classification(s)||not provided by authors|