Differential Gains and
as Predictors of
Hong Vu, Joseph Yoo, Maegan Stephens, Brian
Barech, Rachel Reis Mourao & Tom Johnson
The University of Texas at Austin
Interpersonal communication works in tandem with
mass communication to influence political
participation and knowledge.
• But which model better explains the relationship
between media, discussion, and political effects?
Communication Mediation Model?
• Differential Gains Model (Scheufele and colleagues)
The political effects of news media messages are
contingent upon the media’s interaction with
• Communication Mediation Model (Shah and colleagues)
Mass Communication has an influence on political
aspects but such relationship is indirect:
interpersonal communication mediates the effects
Additional Theoretical Inquiry
• Would wider range of media reliance variables
influence the predictive power of the two models?
Interaction effects on political outcomes:
H1- Exposure to news media;
H2- Interaction between news media and face-
to-face communication, and;
H3 - Interaction between news media and online
Greater political outcomes (e.g., online, offline
political participation, and knowledge).
Which effects are larger? Direct or interaction?
RQ1 media vs. interaction bt. media & face-to-face;
RQ2 media vs. interaction bt. media & online comm
• Mediation effects on political outcomes:
• H4 – Face-to-face communication:
• H5 – Online communication:
• Mediate the relationship between news media and
• Which effects are larger? Mediation or direct?
• RQ3: Media reliance vs. mediation bt. Media & face-
• RQ4: Media reliance vs. mediation bt. Media & online
Amazon Mechanical Turk survey
N = 1267 U.S. respondents
Hierarchical regression analysis (Differential Gains Model)
Path analysis (Communication Mediation Model)
News & Talk
• Offline political participation is predicted by:
• Media reliance:
• Radio news,
• Fox news
• Political discussion:
• Both online and offline discussion
• Face-to-face discussion – Fox News;
• Online discussion and print news; radio news; and
• Online Political participation is predicted by:
• Interaction: print news - online discussion
• Political knowledge is predicted by no variable
• Comparing effects on political participation (RQ1
• Direct effects of media > interaction - face-to-
face discussion on political participation;
• Effects of media reliance > media interaction –
• Comparison of two models:
• No perfect prediction on either of the two
• Differential Gains: Little support
• Communication Mediation: Considerable support.
• Political discussion should be used as mediation rather
than interaction in predicting political participation
• Fox News is different from other media variables in
predicting political knowledge and participation.
• Online discussion is important in motivating people to
engage in political activities.