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Kaowledge about legislative structure. At the second wave of testing,
12 items were used to determine the respondent's level of understanding of
how the Florida legislature works. The questions do not deal with specific
pieces of legislation, but with the manner by which bills are dealt with,
the importance or lack of it of certain legislative activities, and the role
of the executive branch. Again, multiple choice categories were used, re
sponses were scored as correct (2), partly correct (1), or incorrect (0). This was the scoring method for all items, save the last one in the list belou. Maximally correct responses are indicated parenthetically, and the
item means are entered.
1. Hon may bills does the legislature deal with in a sessia? (more
Some legislators have a Populist philosophy. Does this mean they vote... (what they think the people want them to vote) 1.31.
When pecple make amendments to bills, are they generally in favor or generally against the bill? (it depends ) 1.22.
What is the number of people who report on the legislature for
5. Hor important are committee hearings?
(very or somewhat important)
6. How import-ot is e coraittee on rules and calendars? (very or
somewhat importat) 1.49.
1. Which branch of government has the most to say about making laws
in Florida? (the legislative branch) 1.31.
Can a bill in Florida become law if the Governor does not sign
When a Senator makes a speech on the floor of the Senate, how much of the time do other Senators usually pay at tention to him? (some of the time) 1.06.
When the legislators vote on a bili, how do they cast their votes? (push button an voting machine) 1.35.
When the legislators are working, do they act serious or humorous ? (sometimes serious and sometimes humorous ) 1.32.
12. Can you give me the name of one U.S. Senator from Florida? (Gurney
or Chiles) .24.
By summing all scores to individual items, the range of possible scores was 0-23. The average inter-item correlation was +. 17. The frequency distribution for this index, across all respondents at Time 2 was:
The validity of these knowledge indices can be assessed with an analysis of
the intercorrelations among the three measures af Time 2. The basic politi
cal knowledge index was correlated +.54 with the current activities index
and +.35 with the structural knowledge index.
The indices of structural and
activities knowledge were correlated +.51.
To establish the comparability of the experimental and control groups used in this experiment, as well as to isolate other factors which might
contribute to observed differences, certain additional information was ob
tained during the first testing wave.
This information represented four variable areas:
1. General media behaviors. Respondents were asked how much general television watching and how much general newspaper reading they did. Their viewing of Channel 11 was also as certained.
Interest in presidential politics. We determined the degree of the
respondents interest in the prior year's presidential campaign, and whether they had done any thing to help one of the candidates.
3. Awareness of the series "Today In The Legislature." Respondents
were asked whether they knew any thing about a new series of shows on the
legislature, whether they planned to watch any of them, and how often they
thought their parents would watch the series.
4. Demography. Characteristics identified were political party pref
erence, father's occupation, sex, race, and a self-report of scholastic
So the reader may know something about the comparability of the experimental and control groups on these characteristics, we shall indicate here what kinds of differences were obtained:
In terms of general media behaviors, there were no significant dif
ferences between experimental and control subjects on any of the variables.
2. There were no differences between the groups in terms of interest
in presidential politics.
3. As to awareness of the series, both groups were equally aware at Time 1, and there was no significant difference in the anticipated viewing of their parents. However, in terms of the respondents' own anticipated
viewing, the experimental group expressed significantly more anticipated viewing of the series than did the control group.
The groups were not different in terms of sex, father's occupation,
or grades in school.
There were significantly more Democrats in the experi
mental treatments, and significantly more white respondents.
Analysis of Data
The specific modes of analysis are described in the results section. For
some dependent behaviors, data were gathered at multiple points in time; for others, at single points in time, thereby requiring different data treatments. Where appropriate or necessary, control variables were introduced.
The first portion of this section presents analyses which test the main
study hypotheses in terms of general and overall effects. The second portion examines interactions and inter-relationships of other relevant variables with the key dependent variables. The results presentation follows this sequence in dealing with the principal study variables:
1) Political interest and communication behaviors;
2) Political efficacy;
3) Legislative attitudes; and
4) Knowledge about legislative activities and the political process.
Political Interest and Communication
This area encompassed four sub-groups of variables: Political interest in the state legislature, interpersonal communication about politics, expo
sure to other sources of public affairs information, and the voluntary use of
public television for political affairs information. Table I summarizes the
findings, with mean levels on each variable.
Political interest. The political interest meas ure was asked at all three time waves. There was a significant increase in political interest between Tl and T2 which was sustained at the third testing. At the first session, 20% of the experimental subjects and 22% of the control subjects were flatly not interested in what happens when the Florida State Legislature meets. At the conclusion of the public television showings, 11% of the experimental group remained not interested whereas 43% were either somewhat or very interes ted; 19% of the controls remained not interested and 30%
were somewhat or very interested.
Clearly, expos ure to this television
series had increased adolescent interest in state politics, and that inter
est level was maintained for some time after their forced exposure to the
television programs had ended.
Interpersonal communication about politics. AU the youngsters were
asked how often they talked about politics with their friends or with their
parents. As far as the parental measure was concemed, the control and experimental groups were not different at T1 or T2 testings, and were significantly different at T3. In all cases the direction of this difference was for the experimental groups to have indicated more frequent interaction with their parents about politics. One anomaly was that the increase of interaction level was not sustained at the time of the third testing; there was backsliding in terms of how much talking with parents occurred. However, the experimental group never returned to its baseline level of interaction. The control subjects actually had regressed below the initial level when they were asked for the final time about talking politics with their parents.