The sizzle, sputter, and hiss of political discourse is increasingly confined to 30-second barrages. The television "spot" is the haiku of political thought. Much must be crammed into 30 seconds, but even more must be inferred when the message is received and unpacked in the mind of the voter.
The chapters in these volumes examine the artifice of the televised political ad and attempt to peer into the minds of the voters who view them. This work is the labor of the National Political Advertising Research Project (NPARP). NPARP's mission was to study the psychological and symbolic processing of political advertising.
Back in the spring of 1987, I felt that we needed a better understanding of how these ads structure political information and how that information is represented in the minds of voters. Through the generous assistance of the Gannett Foundation, funding was obtained to support research projects at universities and research centers around the country. The project was administered by the Center for Research in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The NPARP focused solely on television advertising. Television is the most influential political advertising medium. We reasoned that to better understand the psychological processing of political advertising, it was first necessary to better understand the processing of television as a medium.
From a pool of over 80 research proposals, a group of 17 was chosen