Visual Symbols as Political Information Primes
Many candidate photographs are taken by the media and used during
campaign coverage, at speeches, fundraisers, and events on the campaign trail.
Campaigns also provide photographs of their candidate for the media to use,
typically traditional head shots of the candidate. As many stories appear
during the campaign these pictures, provided by the campaign, are often used to
accompany newspaper stories. However, such photographs are typically not
labeled as originating from the campaign or the newspaper. We would anticipate
that campaign-provided photographs would portray the candidate in the most
favorable light possible, and may also be susceptible to possible manipulation.
While a photographer may take a picture of a candidate at an event with a flag
in the background, a strategic element in the "photo op" by the campaign, a
campaign provided photograph could also assure that such images are present, or
include them electronically.
If a television news story used video provided by a campaign, in
the form of a video news release (VNR) for instance, many would choose not to
use the VNR. A Freedom Forum study in 1992 found that only 12 percent of 115
television stations surveyed reported using a candidate VNR (Dennis, FitzSimon,
Pavlik, Tachlin, Smillie, Steven and Thalhimer, 1992). Those who report using
them label them accordingly as being provided by the campaign so as to
distinguish the material from their own video.
The public may also be more suspicious of images provided by the
campaign, assuming that a campaign may manipulate images while journalists will
not. In the case of a candidate whose photograph is used in this study, the
color photograph provided by the campaign was used in a number of campaign
stories in 1994. While the photograph was not labeled as being provided by the
campaign, a photographer reports the newspaper received many reader calls and
complaints criticizing the paper for "taking" such a bad picture of the
candidate and continuing to use it. The candidate picture was similar to a
profile shot as compared to many typical head shots with the candidate looking
straight ahead. Had the paper labeled the source of the picture, readers may
have not been so critical of them and would have not accused the paper of bias
in the negative pictures readers believed they took of the candidate.
This whole event does raise questions about the use of candidate
provided images. In addition to manipulating much of the scene at campaign
events the media cover, campaign can also manipulate the images they provide
themselves. Might this opportunity for manipulation have an influence on mass
media audiences? We may not see manipulation to the point of "airbrushing" out
wrinkles or gray hair, but it may occur on a smaller scale, by the inclusion of
various political symbols within the image.
This study will explore the potential for influence of such symbols
on voter evaluation of political candidates. Specifically, we explore the
potential for visual symbols in the media to work as primes to influence
subsequent voter attitudes, opinions, and potential behavior. Whether
constructed by campaigns or the media, primes within the mass media have been
found to have an influence on citizens in a number of situations.
In the context of political campaigns, the mass media is a key
factor in priming effects, as Aldrich, Sullivan and Borgida (1989) say "most of
the public receives its information about candidates and issues from the mass
media, which serve as the key priming agent for accessibility. Coverage of
events, personalities, and issues serves to heighten the accessibility of
political attitudes." (p. 130).
The Power of Priming
How Priming Works
Priming has been associated with psychological models of attitude
accessibility, in that available and accessible attitudes are more likely to
guide the processing of information and behavior than are less accessible
attitudes (Aldrich, et al, 1989). Iyengar suggests that people may give
greater weight to considerations that are momentarily prominent or salient
(1990). Aldrich, et al (1989) distinguish between attitude availability and
accessibility, that availability is if a construct is stored in memory, and
accessibility is the readiness with which a construct is retrieved from memory.
While the symbol of the American flag may be an icon in campaigns
that is chronically accessible for some, our experiment will assure that the
symbol is at least temporarily accessible. Bargh and Pietromonaco (1982) suggest
that categories become more accessible through either recency of activation or
frequency of activation. From the perspective of campaign strategies, if
priming is an effective technique to influence the electorate, campaign messages
often already meet these criteria: campaigns seek recency of information
accessibility by way of timely public appearances, and political advertisements.
They also seek frequency of message accessibility by frequent appearance,
repetition of key themes, and repetition of political advertising messages.
Priming studies, especially those from psychology, typically
increase the accessibility of a construct by exposing subjects to that
construct, often under the guise of an unrelated study. Young, Thomsen,
Borgida, Sullivan and Aldrich (1991) conclude about such studies that "research
within this paradigm has consistently revealed that primed constructs affect
subsequent judgments, even when those judgments are made in an apparently
unrelated situation and involve seemingly unrelated information and task
requirements." (p.273) Other priming studies have explored the influence of
questions in a survey that precede other questions (Tourangeau, Rasinski,
Bradburn, and D'Andrade, 1989) which may prime attitudes that influence how
people interpret and respond to subsequent questions.
If the prime is applicable in a subsequent evaluation, Higgins,
Rholes, and Jones (1977) found that a stimulus person was evaluated in a way
consistent with the tone of the trait of the prime 75 percent of the time. They
also found that the prime was more influential after a time delay (10 to 14 days
later) versus immediate evaluation of a person. They found that with the delay,
the prime consistent information was kept, irrelevant information was deleted
from memory, and additional information was added by subjects that was
consistent with their impression of the subject but was not provided to them at
any time. Srull and Wyer (1980) also found differences in the effectiveness of
a prime when its accessibility occurred with no delay, 24 hours after the prime,
and one week. These studies suggest that consistent primes may have extended
effects, and that impression formation of a political candidate may continue
following a prime and an initial evaluation.
Positive prime constructs appear to be more successful in
influencing positive evaluations of the stimulus than negative primes, as
Sinclair, Mark and Shotland (1987) concluded. They found that subjects who had
been primed with positive constructs evaluated a target person more positively
than those who had been primed with negative constructs. It appears, from this
research, that the tone of the prime is influential itself. If we perceive
political advertising as primes, as West (1994) suggest they are, negative
primes, which appear in attack and comparative political advertisements, may
influence a negative evaluation of a candidate.
Priming and Politics
While priming has its roots in psychological research, it has also
been associated in the context of mass media with other mass communication
theories. Priming has been linked to agenda setting research in that the
greater prominence an issue gets in a society's information, the greater its
weight is in society's political judgments, specifically in standards for
judging public officials, policies or candidates for public office (Iyengar and
Simon, 1993; Iyengar and Kinder, 1987).
In their study of public opinion of presidents, Krosnick and Kinder
(1990) suggest that "the more attention news pays to a particular domain--the
more it is primed--the more citizens will . . . incorporate what they know about
that domain into their overall judgment of the president" (p. 500). They found
that in the assessment of President Reagan in 1986 after the disclosure of the
Iran-Contra affair, public opinion on Reagan's foreign affairs performance was
much more important in public evaluations of his overall performance than before
the government's involvement became apparent before that time.
Foreign policy performance also primed evaluations of President
Bush in 1990, as
Iyengar and Simon (1993) found. Foreign policy performance of Bush
primed evaluations of him during the Persian Gulf crisis in 1990 , as compared
to 1988 and 1989 when foreign policy performance was less of a predictor on
overall evaluations of Bush.
In the context of an election, Iyengar and Kinder (1987) found
greater priming effects when viewers were asked to evaluate a president's
overall performance as opposed to his character. In an experiment of evaluating
two political candidates based on limited information, Sherman, Mackie and
Driscoll (1990) found that primed information was more likely to be recalled,
although subjects were more likely to recall negative information than positive
information. They also found that candidates were evaluated more favorably when
they were presented with positive primes than negative primes.
Who creates or controls primes found in the media? More research
is assessing both political candidates as well as the media as sources of
political primes that may influence how individuals think of and evaluate
candidates (Young, et al, 1991). Jacobs and Shapiro (1984) distinguish between
unintentional and intentional priming in a campaign context. They defined
unintentional priming as the inadvertent impact of journalistic practices on
voters, while intentional priming is the deliberate strategies that candidates
use to influence voters. Many campaigns in reality include a combination of
these two factors; the deliberate strategies by campaigns may influence
journalists' coverage, and therefore will influence the unintentional priming by
In their study of President Kennedy's 1960 campaign, Jacobs and
Shapiro (1994) conclude that candidates often use popular policy issues to
influence the voters' standards for evaluating the candidate. Our study will
explore the possible influence of priming information that is to some degree
controlled by the political candidates themselves, by the political symbols
included in their photo opportunities and in the photographs they provide
Manipulation of such primes may be a routine part of campaign
strategies, as West (1994) says candidates attempt to prime voters themselves by
promoting standards that voters may use in their evaluation of candidates. West
has found that political advertisements may serve as political primes in
promoting certain qualities or standards for voters' consideration.
Aldrich, et al (1989) also suggest that candidates manipulate how
particular attitudes may get activated in a campaign. Candidates know that
greater discussion, and hence the potential for greater media coverage, should
accentuate the accessibility of particular attitudes, while less discussion of
other issues will reduce their accessibility.
People may not be affected equally by primes, although Iyengar and
Kinder (1987) found no differences of priming effects on people who differed by
education level or political involvement. They did, however, find differences
in priming effects based on partisanship, and concluded the television news
primes viewers who are already predisposed to accept the particular message.
The Power of Visual Symbols
While previous priming studies have explored the influence of
priming on voter decisions (Lau, 1989; Lau, Smith and Fiske, 1991; Aldrich, et
al, 1989) and other political decisions (Young, et al, 1991), these studies
typically address the influence of verbal primes (Lau, et al, 1991; Young, et
al, 1991). Other psychological research on priming almost exclusively studies
the influence of lexical primes (Sherman, et al, 1990; Sinclair, et al, 1987;
Tourangeau, et al, 1989). This study is unique in that it explores the
influence of the visual primes on voters' evaluations. Given past research on
the influence of visual material over verbal material in conditions of
inconsistent information (Graber, 1988, Gunter, 1987), it is important to
understand the potential power of visual symbols in political campaign messages.
Recent work in political communication has begun to focus on the
cognitive processes by which political message effects are achieved (Garramone,
1983, 1984, 1985, 1986; Graber, 1988; Kraus and Perloff, 1985). Central in any
such investigations should be the role of visual image which is claimed to be
the primary unit of modern political discourse (Postman, 1988). The interplay
of culture and politics with human thought processes is not artificial or
coincidental. Theories of vision have described the process of perception an
interpretation as a matter of sorting through huge amounts of data, and
categorizing it for use in a regulated, predictable manner (Marr, 1982; see also
Messaris, 1994; Gregory, 1978). Research has shown that holding "mental images"
of objects greatly assists in their recall and affects the "view" we hold of the
objects themselves (Anderson, 1978; D'Agostino, O'Neill and Paivio, 1977;
Elliot, 1973). The weight of experimental research has found that visual images
are recalled and recognized more quickly, more easily, and for a lengthier
duration than are lexical words (Anderson and Paulson, 1978; Anglin and Levie,
1985; Burton and Bruning, 1982; Dallet and Wilcox, 1968; Durston and O'Sullivan,
1983; Emmerich, and Ackerman, 1979; Gehring, Toglias and Kimble, 1976; Levie and
Levi, 1975; Madigan, 1974; Park, 1980; Park, Puglisis and Sovacool, 1983;
Standing, 1973; Wicker, Edmonston, and McClure, 1973). Moreover, we tend to
ascribe high verisimilitude and credibility to visual images especially those
that include familiar sets of culturally potent symbols. (Perlmutter, 1994). It
follows that the visual component of any communication message may take
precedence in influence over the lexical verbal component (Jamieson, 1988).
Public figures often attempt to control their symbolic environment,
creating or modifying the surrounding visual objects. A wealth of research has
argued that ruling elites have always tried to associate their persons with
visualized traditions, symbols and rituals, invented or true, that legitimate
their authority or raise their status (See Hobsbawm and Ranger, 1983). To take
a modern example, President Clinton speaks to us from the oval office framed by
potent symbols of power and authority (the Presidential seal on the desk),
patriotism (the flag on his desk), Presidential greatness (the bust of Lincoln),
family values (the picture of wife and daughter), and so on.
Some research has indicated that even though audiences are aware of
the artificiality of some associations, they are still affected by it. For
example, in one unpublished study political candidates were paired with
associative symbols such as defense armaments (Ebong, 1992). Despite the fact
that the viewers noted that the symbolic associative was conscious tragedy held
by the candidates, they still felt that a link was strong between the assumed
value and the candidate, i.e., "strong on defense." This is an important
findings, suggesting that the effecst of visual manipulation may override the
critical faculties of even the most sophisticated audiences.
Not only would Sears (1993) agree that political symbols can
mobilize our emotions, he also suggests that "pictures can serve as evocative
symbols" (p. 113). Symbolic politics research originated with Murray Edelman
who suggested that elites can manipulate the public by providing
tension-reducing symbols which may direct the public into "political quiescence"
that may serve the interests of the elites (1964). Edelman may categorize many
symbols associated with political candidates as "condensational" symbols, which
"evoke the emotions associated with the situation. They condense into one
symbolic event, sign or act patriotic pride, anxieties, remembrances of past
glories or humiliations, promises of future greatness...." (p.6)
Sears (1993) own theory of symbolic politics seems to suggest that
symbols may work as primes, as his theory states:
"It is assumed that people simply transfer affect
from one symbol to another when they are linked to one another.
a result, the symbolic politics process is characterized by
generally unthinking, reflexive, affective responses to remote
attitude objects rather than by calculations of probable costs
In sum, the visual symbol may have the potential for priming voters
certain qualities about candidates that are traditionally associated
with the symbol, or alter the intensity to which those qualities are ascribed.
Obviously, in any campaign a host of symbols, both verbal and visual are
employed. Some, like the American flag, are ubiquitous, uniform, and almost
constitute a stock juxtaposition. Others, like the surrounding of the candidate
by family members, vary more widely due to the different natures and appearances
of families. Other symbols seem tailored to the candidate's special message, for
example Lamar Alexander's homespun red & black plaid motif that served as an
intended prime for the values of "not from Washington" and "man of the
people." Other attempts at pairing candidate's with symbols -- e.g.,
Michael Dukakis and the M-1 Abrams tank were less successful, perhaps due to
innate and contradictory candidate characteristics sensed by pundits and voters
alike. Clearly, thus, it is of interest to try to isolate the potential priming
effects of visual symbols, and to try to gauge the range of influences, limits
and contexts in which they may succeed or fail.
Given the prominence of American flags at political campaign
events, we predict such images will have a priming effect on how voters evaluate
the candidate on various qualities.
H1: Subjects who read the campaign story with the
flag background photograph will evaluate the candidate as more
patriotic than subjects who read the campaign story with the
In addition to predicting a priming effect on candidate evaluation
of patriotism, the influence of primes on issue positions, will be explored
here. The flag symbol may also be found to have a priming effect on related
political issues, including military defense, flag burning, and freedom of
H2: Subjects who read the campaign story with the
flag background photograph will be more likely to report
with the candidate's position on issues of the military, flag
burning, and freedom of speech than subjects who read the
story with the plain photograph.
We also predict that there may exist an interaction among these
variables being primed. The flag visual may prime voters to evaluate a
candidate to be more patriotic, and the flag visual may prime those voters to
evaluate the candidate favorably on political issues. However, voters'
evaluation of candidate patriotism, which we predict will be primed by the
presence of the flag visual in the candidate photograph, may also influence
voters' evaluation of candidate issue positions.
H3: Subjects who read the campaign story with the
flag background photograph who also evaluate the candidate as
patriotic will be more likely to agree with the candidate
on the military, flag burning and freedom of speech than
who read the campaign story with the plain photograph.
A sample of 235 subjects recruited from undergraduate communication
at a southern university participated in the study in February,
1996. Students were told that their voluntary participation would involve a
study on politics and the press. There were more women than men participating
(60 percent were female), although the numbers were consistent with gender
representation of the student population in the communication major.
Design and Procedure
A between-subjects experimental design was used. Subjects read a
campaign profile story of a fictional candidate. Subjects were randomly
assigned to one of two experimental conditions, which differed only in the
photograph included in the profile story. After reading the story, subjects
completed a questionnaire on candidate evaluation and issue evaluation. The
photograph in the story served as the potential prime, and its effects were then
measured on the evaluation of the candidate qualities and issue positions.
Subjects read a randomly assigned campaign story introducing a
political candidate for a fictional upcoming election. The stimulus consisted
of a fictitious "candidate profile" story with an associated candidate
photograph. The independent variable in the experiment is the candidate
photograph. One half of respondents saw a candidate picture with no other
objects in the photo (control "no flag" condition), while the other half of
respondents saw a photograph of a candidate with a flag covering the background
of the photo (priming "flag" condition). A photograph from a senatorial
candidate from a midwest state was utilized in this study and represented as the
fictional candidate "Larson." The original photograph, in black and white,
contained a dark colored background, which represents for this study the "no
flag" condition. The image of an American flag was then digitally pasted into
the background of this photograph to create the picture for the "flag"
condition. (A pretest with 30 subjects from this university outside of this
study evaluated either of these photographs and none reported awareness of any
manipulation having occurred.)
Subjects evaluated the candidate on 21 qualities, on 7-point scales
of bipolar adjectives (the positive quality was coded 7, while its negative
opposite was coded 1). The adjectives reflect both qualities considered
important for a public official as well as qualities considered important for
people in general. The 21 items were derived from an assessment of most
frequently used candidate evaluation items from previous research (Pierce, 1993;
Joslyn, 1986; Pfau, Diedrich, Laron and Van Winkle, 1993, Patterson, Churchill,
Bruger, Powell, 1992; Geiger and Reeves, 1991; Klein, 1991; Cronkhite, Liska and
Schrader, 1991; Cundy, 1986). See appendix for the specific items used.
Subjects evaluated the candidate's position on 10 political issues,
indicating on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 = "strongly disagree" to 7 =
"strongly agree" to the degree to which the respondent was likely to agree with
the candidate on the issue.
Subjects were asked, "In the absence of other information, how
likely would you be to vote for Larson if the election were held today?"
Responses were indicated on a 7-point scale from "very unlikely" to "very
The flag visual in the candidate photo did result in more favorable
evaluations of candidate patriotism (4.12 with flag, 3.46 without flag, t-value=
3.84, p=.000). The only other candidate quality with significant differences in
evaluations between the flag/no flag conditions was compassion (with flag, 3.92,
without flag, 3.58, t-value 2.03, p.=.04), that those who saw the candidate
photo with the flag background evaluated the candidate are more compassionate
than those who saw the plain candidate photograph. H1 was supported.
In comparing issue agreement scores on issues thought to be
possibly related to the flag symbol, there were no significant differences on
the three issues examined. Agreement with the candidate position on the
military was not significantly different between those who saw the flag in the
candidate photo from those who saw the plain background photo (with flag, 4.00;
without flag, 3.77, n.s.), as well as no difference with issue agreement on flag
burning (with flag, 3.34; without flag, 3.18) or freedom of speech (with flag
3.5; without flag, 3.52). H2 did not received support in this experiment.
The interaction of exposure to the flag visual with the resulting
candidate evaluation of patriotism, however, did result in significant
differences in the evaluation of two of these issues. For the issue of the
military, there was a main effect for patriotism (F=3.913, p=.005) (See Figure
1). Those who evaluated the candidate as more patriotic appear to be more
likely to report agreeing with the candidate's position on the issue of military
defense. There was also an interaction between candidate patriotism score and
the presence or absence of the flag in the photograph on the level of agreement
with the candidate about military defense (F=2.323, p.=.034). See Figure 2 for
the comparison of agreement with candidate by the presence or absence of the
flag and candidate patriotism score. While the flag visual may have not primed
a specific factor regarding the issue evaluation of the military, it is clear
that the priming of patriotism by the flag visual may be related to level of
agreement with the candidate on the issue of the military. The more patriotic
the candidate was evaluated, when respondents had been exposed to the flag
visual, it appears the more likely they were to report agreeing with the
candidate on the issue of military defense.
There was no interaction between the flag visual and candidate
patriotism score for the issue of flag burning, although the patriotism score
had a main effect on agreement with the candidate's position (F=2.743, p.=.014)
(See Figure 3). While the differences are not sizable, it appears that the
greater the patriotism score respondents had assigned to the candidate, the more
likely they were to report themselves agreeing with the candidate's position on
flag burning. Neither the flag visual nor the candidate patriotism score had
separate main effects on the level of agreement with the candidate on freedom of
speech, but there was a significant interaction of the two (F=2.198, p=.045).
See Figure 4 for the comparison by presence or absence of the flag and
candidate patriotism score on agreement with candidate on freedom of speech.
While there is much overlap of the two lines, it appears that the more patriotic
the candidate was evaluated, when respondents had been exposed to the flag
visual, the more likely they were to report agreeing with the candidate on the
issue of freedom of speech. H3 received support on two of the three issues
examined with connections to the influence of the symbol of the flag, as well as
the perceived patriotism of the candidate.
What influence may all of these factors have on the likelihood of
the candidate? A regression analysis found that of the variables
examined in detail here (patriotism, presence or absence of flag visual,
military, freedom of speech, flag burning), only the issues of the military
defense of freedom of speech account for any variance in vote likelihood,
accounting for 17 percent of the variance on vote likelihood. See Table 1.
To assess more broadly how candidate evaluations and issue
evaluations predict vote choice, all candidate evaluation items as well as issue
evaluation items were entered into a regression equation to predict vote
likelihood. Three issue items (military defense, health care, welfare) and four
candidate quality items (sincerity, appealing, strength, and capability) were
found to be significant variables, and in total these seven variables accounted
for 56 percent of the variance in vote likelihood (See Table 2). If visual
symbols are able to prime sentiments toward the candidate on these qualities and
issues, they may be influential on voters' decisions in elections.
The flag visual appears to have primed evaluations of patriotism of
the candidate, although the prime did not expand to other candidate qualities
besides compassion. The flag, while clearly equated for most people with
patriotism, may not have many other connotations for voters. Other visual
images, however, may be related to additional qualities. Seeing a candidate
positioned in a political office, for instance, may influence impressions of the
candidate experience, knowledge, etc. The priming manipulation tested here
differs from its typical examination in psychological research involving
priming. This study's use of priming is more realistic to how visual symbols in
mass media may prime an audience for the consideration of patriotism to be more
accessible and available in subsequent processes and evaluations.
The priming of the flag visual did not influence evaluations of any
political issues tested here. We did not find support for a connection of
constructs between the flag prime and the issues of military defense, flag
burning, and freedom of speech. While the flag may inspire sentiments of
candidate qualities, it does not appear to directly influence thoughts related
to political issues. The flag has become a predictable symbol of political
campaigns, however, as we see the flag hanging behind a candidate at many
political events, and may not be identified with a particular issue at this
time. In 1988 when flag burning was an issue in the presidential campaign, and
candidates were making visits to flag factories, the symbol of the flag may have
been laden with more connotation. Other symbols not so ritualistic in
campaigns, however, may have stronger relationships directly to issues
themselves. In this particular experiment, flag burning and freedom of speech
were not part of the campaign story text, and therefore subjects were required
to extrapolate their impressions of candidate positions on these issues, which
may provide a partial explanation for the lack of relationship with these
The evaluation of candidate patriotism was related to the
evaluation of candidate positions on the issues of military defense and flag
burning. Considering Tourangeau, et al's (1989) concerns regarding the priming
effects of prior questions on responses to latter questions in a survey may be
relevant in this case. By asking subjects to consider whether they thought the
candidate was patriotic or not, in addition to other qualities, may have
actually primed them in a way that patriotism was a quality that was part of
available constructs they considered when evaluating the candidate on issue
We did find an interaction between exposure to the flag prime and
the patriotism evaluation of the candidate on the issues of military defense and
freedom of speech issues. If visual primes can make particular candidate
qualities more salient through campaign coverage, we may see those qualities
being considered more importantly by the electorate. In this case, it may have
been that the flag prime made the concept of patriotism more salient to
subjects, which was part of accessible and available constructs considered in
evaluating the candidates. The flag prime may have made patriotism more
salient, and this sentiment may have itself become a prime that influenced how
respondents evaluated candidate issue positions.
Whether visual symbols prime constructs used in evaluating
candidates on personal qualities or issue positions, or personal qualities that
influence evaluations of issue positions, this research does suggest that the
manipulation of what some may see as minute elements in a campaign context may
have effects on the electorate. These results suggest that newspapers should
take into consideration more seriously the ramifications of using
campaign-provided material in news stories. It also suggests another level for
potential manipulation by candidates, campaigns, or the news media.
To further test the potential influence for visual symbols to work
as primes in campaign evaluations, we intend to replicate this approach testing
other political symbols. We can then gauge the influence of more political
primes than just the American flag, and possibly compare the effectiveness of
different visual primes in candidate quality evaluation, issue evaluation, and
voting likelihood. One symbol that has been part of campaign images is the
candidates and their families, which is the next symbol we will test for priming
effects. Family values has become an issue of important since the 1980s, and
may be an important influential symbol on voters when it comes of evaluation of
candidate qualities and issue positions. Thorson, Christ and Caywood (1991)
tested a related image in political advertising, and found that the presence of
a candidate's family (versus a candidate in campaign setting) in political
advertising was related to more positive evaluations of candidate personal
qualities, but was also related to negative evaluations of candidate ability.
Given our premise early on, that campaign photographs are subject
to manipulation as are political advertisements, although the public may not see
this similarity, it is important to compare the effectiveness of visual primes
in news coverage and advertising. The public may see advertising as nothing
more than blatant manipulation, but they may not interpret news coverage
similarly. As they may believe candidate coverage, and their photographs, are
taken by news photographers rather than provided by a campaign, the primes
identified with more "credible" sources may have greater influence. Those
primes that clearly originated from that campaign may be more quickly
discounted, and therefore potentially less influential. Another method by which
such effects could be tested is to provide a clear identification if a campaign
photograph was provided by a campaign by labeling it as such, or was taken by a
news staff photographer. This would clear up questions if the source of the
photograph might influence the evaluation of the photograph and possible
subsequent evaluation of the candidate.
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Regression to Predict Vote Likelihood:
Flag Visual, Patriotism, Issues of Military Defense, Flag Burning,
Freedom of Speech
Items in regression
Freedom of Speech
Regression to Predicting Vote Likelihood:
Issues and Candidate Qualities
Items in regression
 This is notable in the candidate's World Wide Web site
where almost every page has the plaid shirt as the backdrop.