This dissertation advances our understanding of how and under what conditions group rhetoric influences citizens’ political opinions and evaluations. Based on a wide range of experimental data and the study of a diverse set of issues including religious tolerance, integration and public welfare the dissertation argues that we may gain a better understanding of the effects of group rhetoric on public opinion through a better incorporation of the linkage between elite rhetoric and citizens’ information processing systems. The findings demonstrate that contextual information about the behavior and the position of the target group of a policy shapes the impact of group rhetoric. Furthermore, the dissertation investigates how the format of the way we talk about target groups and how information about which partisan group is the source of a political message can influence opinion. The findings point out that citizens respond to group constructions in a reflected and active manner and that the processing of group rhetoric is sophisticated. This work will appeal to all who are interested in group rhetoric, public opinion formation, and the effects of identity discourses in political communication.
Udgivet december 2010
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