Voting Experience and Perceived Media Impact Second- and Third-Person-Effects of Political Communication in Germany
The notion that people believe others to be more susceptible for media impact than themselves has attracted substantial scholarly interest in recent years. The present paper reports on the first field study of the third-person effect in Germany. On occasion of the Federal election campaign in 2002, a survey determined respondent’s belief of how strongly the general public, their friends and family, and their own person was affected by six different sorts of communication sources. Results confirm the perceptual component of the third-person concept (including the social distance and the message desirability hypothesis) but fail to prove effects on the behavioural intention of voters. The magnitude of perceptual gaps is influenced by a person’s voting experience, with first-time voters displaying smaller differences in impact assessments. But the part of media use and political involvement in this process of political communication is still unclear and requires further research.