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Zerback, Thomas; Peter, Christina (2018): Exemplar Effects on Public Opinion Perception and Attitudes: The Moderating Role of Exemplar Involvement. In: Human Communication Research, Vol. 44, No. 2: pp. 176-196
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Abstract

The depiction of citizens expressing their opinions in the news is an increasingly popular feature of modern journalism, because they can serve as exemplars that illustrate abstract or complex issues. However, citizen exemplars differ regarding their level of personal involvement in the issue they talk about. Affected exemplars have some kind of personal experience with an issue (e.g. ill people) whereas unaffected citizens, as ordinary "people from the street," do not. We examine for the first time how exemplars' personal involvement moderates their effects on recipients' perceptions of public opinion and personal attitudes. The results show that compared to unaffected exemplars, affected exemplars weaken effects on public opinion perceptions. In contrast, the moderating role of exemplar involvement for attitudinal effects was limited.