Media priming effects: Accessibility, association, and activation

David Domke, Dhavan V. Shah, Daniel B Wackman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


In studying 'priming effects' - the process by which activated mental constructs can influence how individuals evaluate other concepts and ideas - political communication scholars have focused primarily on the frequency and recency of construct use in the accessibility of specific cognitions; less attention has been given to the spread of activation among related cognitions. Drawing from both of these research interests, we argue that media framing of issues in moral or ethical terms can prime voters to (I) make attributions about candidate integrity, and/or (2) evaluate other political issues in ethical terms. To examine these relationships, this research used the same experimental design with two sub-populations - evangelical Christians and university undergraduate students - expected to differ in the inter-connectedness of core values with political attitudes. A single issue, which varied in the types of values in conflict, was systematically altered across four otherwise constant political environments to examine priming effects. Findings suggest that future research should conceptualize priming more broadly to include considerations of both the accessibility of cognitions in short-term memory and the pathways among information in long-term memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-74
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

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