Social Networking and Political Campaigns: Perceptions of Candidates as Interpersonal Constructs

By Powell, Larry; Richmond, Virginia P. et al. | North American Journal of Psychology, June 2011 | Go to article overview

Social Networking and Political Campaigns: Perceptions of Candidates as Interpersonal Constructs


Powell, Larry, Richmond, Virginia P., Williams, Glenda C., North American Journal of Psychology


Research in political communication recognizes the role of interpersonal communication in the campaign process, with research looking at interpersonal influence, opinion leadership, and anticipated conversations with other individuals (Powell & Cowart, 2003). Voters discuss political topics with others (Huckfeldt & Sprague, 1995), using those discussions to evaluate information while forming their own opinions (Mutz, 1998). Their conversations include exchanges of information, political arguments, and issue-specific news (Wyatt, Kim & Katz, 2000). Other research has found a link between television viewing and interpersonal attraction of public figures (Antecol, 1998). Media audiences often respond to celebrities and television characters on a quasi-interpersonal level similar to that of an interpersonal friendship (Powell & Anderson, 1984). Surlin (1974), for example, argued that media audiences consider television characters to be surrogate friends. Similarly, television characters can be perceived as if they were real people under a social facilitation paradigm (Gardner & Knowles, 2008), particularly when the individual has unfulfilled social needs (Ashe & McCutcheon, 2001; Giles & Maltby, 2004; Wang, Fink, & Cai, 2008). Rubin and McHugh (1987) reported that such behavior was related to social attraction, while Turner (1993) identified homophily as a factor in the strength of para-social relationships. Homophily, is what Barker (2008) described as an affinity for "people like me" (p. 21). However, past research has focused primarily on media celebrities (Rubin, Perse, & Powell, 1985; Turner, 1993) or athletes (Brown & Basil, 1995; Brown, Basil, & Bocarnea, 2003; Brown, Duane, & Fraser, 1997). Little research has looked at the effect in terms of political candidates. This is an oversight, considering the implications of both interpersonal communication and Internet communication in political campaigns.

With the Internet playing an increasingly important role in both mass and interpersonal communication, the need for research in the area has also grown (Morris & Ogan, 1996; Newhagen & Rafaeli, 1996). However, the relationship between the Internet and political communication has been limited in that many political campaigns often relied on traditional media when communicating with voters. That changed with the 2008 presidential election, which became the first presidential election in which both candidates were positioned to use social networks as a campaign tool (Hendricks & Denton, 2010).

Previous research has identified four primary motivations for seeking online political information: guidance, information-seeking, entertainment, and social utility (Kaye & Johnson, 2002). Of primary interest to this study is social, or interpersonal, utility, i.e., "using the Internet to reinforce decisions and arm individuals with information to use in discussions with others" (p. 62). The concept involves the need to keep up with current political events for the purpose of discussing them with friends and co-workers (Swanson, 1976). Social utility motivations have been reported more often for individuals with a high interest in political campaigns and issues (Kaye & Johnson, 2002). One by-product of social utility is that it can increase information seeking and knowledge of political events (Kitchens, Powell, & Williams, 2003). Diddi and LaRose argue that this behavior is particularly common among college students, since college students read more news online than their non-college peers and turn to the Internet more often than any other source. Students who seek out news and political information on the Internet are more politically active than other students, more likely to be politically involved, and reported higher informational motivation--including motivation for social utility (Park, Kee, & Valenzuela, 2009). These results indicate that online social networking sites could influence interpersonal images in the political arena. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Social Networking and Political Campaigns: Perceptions of Candidates as Interpersonal Constructs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.