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Vox Pops or Polls? Effects of Vox Pops and Opinion Polls on Perceived Public Opinion, Personal Opinion and News Item Evaluation.

How news media frame and portray public opinion contributes to what audiences perceive to be the majority opinion. Journalists have several means at their disposal to present public opinion in the news. Opinions polls and vox pops—interviews with the ordinary man or woman on the street—are possibly the most common and recognized representations of the public in the news. Surprisingly, little is known about how these public opinion displays relate to each other in the influence they have on audiences. Although the effect of vox pops is well-established, we do not know whether vox pop statements are able to 'overrule' other more valid public opinion data such as opinion polls, especially in television news. This is why the main objective of this study is to analyze how opinion polls and vox pops affect audiences' perceived public opinion and personal opinion. Moreover, this project will also study whether these effects persist over time and how they influence news item evaluation. To do so, this project uses a large-scale, web-based experiment. The stimuli are sixteen constructed television news items apparently from the Flemish public service broadcaster. The treatment news items will contain the real news anchor and journalists, making the items very realistic. The dependent variables are perceived public opinion, personal opinion and news item evaluation. In sum, this experiment will provide a unique understanding of when and why vox pops and opinions polls influence audience perceptions and judgments. Not only will this project address several gaps in the research field, but it will also help journalists to inform audiences about public opinion in a more insightful way.
Date:1 Apr 2018 →  31 Mar 2019
Disciplines:Communication sciences, Journalism and professional writing, Media studies, Other media and communications, Public opinion