Study shows visual framing by media in debates affects public perception

June 24, 2019

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Both Democratic and Republican Party front-runners benefited from preferential visual coverage during the televised 2016 presidential primary debates, according to a new study published by University of Arkansas political scientists. But the researchers say Donald Trump was the clear winner in terms of visual techniques used by the media, such as camera time and solo shots.

"Although the questions asked and the speaking time given to the candidates can certainly influence how the candidates convey themselves and their policy positions, perhaps a more primal, subtle and pervasive means by which the media affects public perceptions of candidates is how they visually depict each candidate," wrote researchers Patrick A. Stewart, associate professor of political science, and graduate students Austin Eubanks and Jason Miller. The study was published in the journal Politics and the Life Sciences.

Researchers studied the first two 2016 Republican and Democratic debates frame-by-frame, keeping track of aggregate camera time, average shot time, and the type of shot (solo, split screen, side-by-side, multiple candidate and audience reaction) for each candidate. Their premise is that how media producers visually depict a candidate in a debate provides viewers subtle, non-verbal information about the candidate's leadership abilities and traits. More time in solo or side-by-side shots, as opposed to being alongside many other candidates, imparts an impression of authority.

Among Republicans, the researchers found that Trump garnered the most camera time by far in both 2016 debates, followed by Jeb Bush. The rankings matched the candidates' polling numbers at the time, with Trump polling highest and Bush in second. The drop in camera time from these two contenders to the rest of the field was substantial.

Trump spent proportionately less screen time than any other Republican candidate in group shots by a generous margin, with camera shots focusing on him either as a leader or the premier competitor for leadership.

"The visual framing findings in this study suggest that in debates with numerous candidates on stage, there were big winners and big losers," the researchers wrote. "During the early debates of the 2016 presidential election, the big winner was Donald Trump."

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton received the greatest amount of camera time in both debates, followed by Bernie Sanders. Clinton likewise spent proportionately less time in multiple candidate shots, although the Democratic field of candidates was smaller.

"If seeing is believing, then who chooses what and who we see, and how we see them, has enormous influence and responsibility for a functioning republic," Stewart said.
-end-


University of Arkansas

Related Candidates Articles from Brightsurf:

Gold nanoparticles turn the spotlight on drug candidates in cells
A team including researchers from Osaka University has developed a surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) microscopy technique for tracking small molecules in live cells.

Researcher found female candidates are more likely to discuss the economy than males
In a new study published in Politics & Policy, Deserai Crow, PhD, associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver in the School of Public Affairs, found significant differences in discussion topics between both party affiliation and gender.

Candidates who lie more likely to win elections - new study
A new economics experiment suggests the electoral system attracts candidates who are dishonest and highlights why greater transparency might foster more trust in politics.

Scientists identify promising new ALS drug candidates
Scientists have taken a significant step forward in the search to find effective new drug candidates for the treatment of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease.

When it comes to supporting candidates, ideology trumps race and gender
Voters who express prejudice against minorities and women are still more likely to support candidates who most closely align with their ideologies, regardless of the race or sex of such candidates, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Scientists identify hundreds of drug candidates to treat COVID-19
Scientists at the University of California, Riverside, have used machine learning to identify hundreds of new potential drugs that could help treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2.

Candidates who use humor on Twitter may find the joke is on them
Political candidates' use of humor on social media could sometimes backfire on them with potential supporters, new research suggests.

Essential oil components can be tested as drug candidates
A research team at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology and the KU Leuven Department of Biology showed that, contrary to generally held belief, most components of essential oils could meet the criteria set for drug candidates.

Social media content matters for job candidates, researchers find
According to researchers at Penn State, job recruiters are less likely to select candidates who appear to be too self-involved or opinionated in their social media posts.

University of Miami team investigates why candidates for cochlear implants rarely get them
University of Miami researchers published a study in JAMA Oncology-Head and Neck Surgery that examines why adult candidates for cochlear implants rarely get them.

Read More: Candidates News and Candidates Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.