A nationwide telephone survey in the United States was conducted to investigate the impact of question order on the perceptual and behavioral hypotheses of the third-person effect. The perceptual hypothesis posits that individuals perceive other people to be more vulnerable than themselves to persuasive media messages, whereas the behavioral hypothesis predicts that perceiving others as more vulnerable increases support for message restrictions. Key questions included estimated effects of media issues on self, perceived effects on others, and support for restrictions on media content. Four question-order conditions (restrictions-others-self, restrictions-self-others, others-self-restrictions, and self-others-restrictions) were tested with three media issues (television violence, televised trials, and negative political advertising). In line with past research, the order of the self, others, and restrictions questions did not affect the perceptual hypothesis. However, the sequencing of the self, others, and restrictions questions affected support for the behavioral hypothesis in some conditions. The results suggest that, consistent with a saliency effect, placement of self and others questions prior to the restrictions question might heighten respondents' willingness to endorse restrictions on the media and increase support for the behavioral hypothesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science