Reach across the aisle: Elevation from political messages predicts increased positivity toward politics, political participation, and the opposite political party

Morgan E. Ellithorpe, Yan Huang, Mary Beth Oliver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Elevation is a mixed-affect emotional experience in response to witnessing good deeds, moral beauty, or virtue. Although studied extensively in entertainment, it has been largely ignored in political communication. The results of two experimental studies with U.S. adults (n = 210 and n = 630) suggest that political speeches can evoke elevation responses, and that such an elevation response is not affected by the political party of the speaker. An elevating response was associated with greater positivity toward politics and the speaker (Studies 1 and 2), as well as increased perceived closeness with one's own party and the opposing party (Study 2). Elevation was also associated with lower political cynicism. These outcomes further predicted both intentions to participate in the political process and information-seeking behavior. In a time when U.S. politics seem especially divided, elevation may represent one possible avenue for encouraging political discourse and participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-272
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Communication
Volume69
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

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political participation
political speech
information-seeking behavior
political communication
politics
Communication
beauty
entertainment
participation
discourse
experience
Political Parties
Positivity
Political Participation
Elevation
time

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

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abstract = "Elevation is a mixed-affect emotional experience in response to witnessing good deeds, moral beauty, or virtue. Although studied extensively in entertainment, it has been largely ignored in political communication. The results of two experimental studies with U.S. adults (n = 210 and n = 630) suggest that political speeches can evoke elevation responses, and that such an elevation response is not affected by the political party of the speaker. An elevating response was associated with greater positivity toward politics and the speaker (Studies 1 and 2), as well as increased perceived closeness with one's own party and the opposing party (Study 2). Elevation was also associated with lower political cynicism. These outcomes further predicted both intentions to participate in the political process and information-seeking behavior. In a time when U.S. politics seem especially divided, elevation may represent one possible avenue for encouraging political discourse and participation.",
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