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YouTube-ification of political talk: An examination of persuasion appeals in viral video.

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Monica Ancu

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In 2008, U.S. Internet users watched 14 billion videos on YouTube. During the 2008 presidential campaign, voters rated watching YouTube political videos as one of the top three most popular online political activities. But to what degree are YouTube political videos influential of viewers’ perceptions, and to what degree does the source of the video make an impact? Similar to all other new forms of online communication, the effects of YouTube clips on consumers of political information, and the credibility of these messages, have yet to be understood. This study takes a step into that direction through a three-cell posttest-only experimental design that exposed participants to three YouTube clips about health care, each clip containing a different persuasive appeal (source or ethos, logic or logos, and emotion or pathos). Results revealed that the ethos appeal ranked as the most credible appeal, followed by logos and pathos, a somewhat promising finding that users resist being swayed by emotion or hard numbers and pay attention to message source. No relationship was found between the appeals and political information efficacy or the political cynicism of participants.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in American Behavioral Scientist, 55(6), 733-748. DOI: 10.1177/0002764211398090 Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.




Sage Publications, Inc.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.