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Exemplar Effects on Public Opinion Perception, Attitudes, and Behavioral Intentions: The Moderating Role of Exemplar Involvement

Fri, May 26, 8:00 to 9:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo Ballroom B


Citizens expressing their opinions in the news are an increasingly popular feature used in modern journalism. Often, these citizens serve as exemplars, helping to illustrate abstract or complex issues. However, citizen exemplars can differ according to their level of personal involvement in the issue they talk about. Affected exemplars have some kind of personal experience with the issue (e.g. people suffering from an illness) whereas non-affected citizens, as ordinary “men-from-the-street” do not. Hence, the current study, for the first time, examines how exemplars’ personal involvement moderates their effects on recipients’ perceptions of public opinion, personal attitudes, and behavioral intentions. Results show that exemplar involvement functions as a moderator of these effects, however, in different directions: Compared to non-affected exemplars, affected exemplars weaken effects on public opinion perceptions, but strengthen effects on people’s behavioral intentions.