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How to study if there is a causal link between the choice of television broadcast channel to obtain news and the opinions people hold with regard to ethnic minorities?

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  1. 1. Is there a causal relation between the choice of television broadcast channel to obtain news and the opinions people hold with regard to ethnic minorities? Effects of media use on public opinion Mark Boukes 9 December 2009 Communication studies Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences University of Amsterdam
  2. 2. Research Question <ul><li>Does someone’s use of a particular broadcasting channel, public or commercial, to obtain news, raise the probability of some opinion with regard to ethnic minorities? </li></ul><ul><li>Independent variable (X): use of a particular broadcasting channel </li></ul><ul><li>Dependent variable (Y): opinions with regard to ethnic minorities </li></ul><ul><li>Units of analysis: respondents </li></ul>9 December 2009
  3. 3. Theory <ul><li>Crucial in making claims of causal links is the elaboration of an underlying, generative process (Goldthorpe, 2001). Otherwise these cannot be explained. </li></ul><ul><li>Framing theory (Entman, 1993): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Frame building </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Frame setting; cultivation (De Vreese, 2005; Scheufele, 1999) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Public broadcasting channels are more nuanced about ethnic minorities, because they do not have to please the public like commercials broadcasters have to do. </li></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Watching more commercial broadcasting channels will raise the opportunity of having more negative opinions with regard to ethnic minorities, than watching public broadcasting channels </li></ul></ul>9 December 2009
  4. 4. Research design <ul><li>A longitudinal (5 year) quasi-experiment combining panel data with event history analysis </li></ul><ul><li>A 200 persons-sample of people who also participate in the research of Stichting Kijkonderzoek . </li></ul><ul><li>Online questionnaire, weekly in 5 to 10 minutes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opinions with regard to ethnic minorities (multiple observed items form a latent variable). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Important events in their life; special attention to affairs potentially involving immigrants. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Explanations for (a change in) viewing behaviour. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When did events happen. </li></ul></ul>9 December 2009
  5. 5. Counterfactual topic 9 December 2009 * Simplified model; in the real design are more groups
  6. 6. Event History Analysis <ul><li>See respondents change over time ( within units variance) and know why they are part of one group </li></ul><ul><li>Time-varying factors </li></ul><ul><li>A change in X followed in time by a change in Y, makes a causal mechanism likely (t’-t ≠ 0) </li></ul><ul><li>Measuring possible confounding variables (e.g. age, school career, residence), asking for important events (e.g. theft) </li></ul><ul><li> Richer information, less restrictions, and argument more robust </li></ul>9 December 2009
  7. 7. Doubts <ul><li>Social desirable answers on questions about minorities, not for television channel choice </li></ul><ul><li>Discrete variables, what should be the scale of X and Y. </li></ul><ul><li>Retrospective questions about attitudes </li></ul>9 December 2009
  8. 8. Validity <ul><li>External validity: Generalizing the results to other Dutch people should not be a problem, because the sample is representative for them. </li></ul><ul><li>Internal validity: Possible to measure what we want to measure, so the researcher can reasonably be sure that the relation that was found is true. However: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Effects of testing. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Effects of instrumentation (change) by Stichting Kijkonderzoek . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experimental mortality. </li></ul></ul>9 December 2009
  9. 9. Alternative design <ul><li>Laboratory experiment; </li></ul><ul><li>Participants watch to different news programs (of commercial or public broadcast channels) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assign them at random to different groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Difference between groups? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Problem </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Priming; no long-lasting effects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unnatural and therefore less interesting, not external valid. </li></ul></ul>9 December 2009
  10. 10. Alternative design II <ul><li>Experiment over time in real life : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Divide participants random in two groups; one group should be cut off for a period (two-months) from commercial broadcast channels, the other group for the same period should be cut off from public broadcasters. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>See how their initial attitudes did change </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Problem </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unlikely that people want to participate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unnatural, therefore less interesting. </li></ul></ul>9 December 2009