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The Third-Person Effect. Only a Media Perception?

Journal article
Authors Bengt Johansson
Published in Nordicom Review
Volume 26
Issue 1
Pages 81-94
ISSN 1403-1108
Publication year 2005
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Pages 81-94
Language en
Keywords third-person effect, political communication
Subject categories Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


This article focuses on people’s beliefs about how other people’s political attitudes are shaped and examines how the hypothesis of a third-person effect is related to non-mediated sources of information such as personal experience and interpersonal communication. Also presented are results on the perceived impact of different media such as television, newspapers and political advertising. A representative sample of the Swedish population answered a national survey during the period November – December 2001, and the results show general support for a third-person effect. Mediated information sources and interpersonal communication are believed to influence others more than oneself. Personal experience, on the other hand, is believed to be more important for oneself than for other people, and first-person effects were found among people with a high level of education or a strong political interest. Thus, one conclusion is that people tend to believe their own picture of politics is more dependent on personal experience and that others’ political attitudes are more dependent on mass media or people in their social environment.

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