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Koch, Thomas; Peter, Christina (July 2017): Effects of Equivalence Framing on the Perceived Truth of Political Messages and the Trustworthiness of Politicians. In: Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 81, No. 4: pp. 847-865
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Recent studies in psychology have shown that the framing of a message affects judgments about its truth, as negatively framed statements are perceived as more trustworthy than formally equivalent, positively framed statements. The current work examines this effect in the contexts of political communication and public opinion. The results of three experiments show that equivalence framing affects both the perceived truth of political messages and the trustworthiness of its source, and that one cause of this effect is that recipients have learned to associate negativity with news and positivity with persuasive communication through media exposure. Consequently, we find that positively framing statements can lead recipients to feel that the source is trying to persuade them, which triggers reactance, reducing the perceived truth of the message and the trustworthiness of the source.