Annie Lang Washington State University
The study reported here investigates what is learned from political advertisements within the context of a research program designed to study how individuals process televised information. This approach is based on the idea that political commercials make up a unique subset of media content that requires study. Further, that although it is valuable to study political commercials within the social and political environment of a campaign, it is equally valid to investigate how individuals process political commercials as stimuli in a controlled environment.
This theoretical perspective makes two assumptions. First, that aspects of the medium of television, that is to say its structural features, affect how we take in the information presented on television. An attempt is made to assess television in terms of its various stimulus properties such as camera techniques, speed of presentation, luminance levels, movement, and audio-visual presentation mode. Second, it is assumed that the content of television also has an effect on how we process and learn the information presented. Aspects of television content such as emotion, style, reality, and violence must be studied concurrently with the structural aspects of the medium.
This theoretical perspective assumes that structure and content have independent and interdependent effects on how we learn from television. The purpose of this research is to investigate, within the media subset of political advertisements, how one aspect of content, in this case emotion, and one aspect of structure, in this case scene changes, affect memory for both the audio and visual information contained in