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was particularly evident among the black youngsters and the more politically informed youth.
Related reading of state legislative news in the newspaper,
largely among black youngsters.
4. Voluntary exposure to shows in the public affairs series, after involuntary classroom exposure had ceased.
5. More favorable attitudes toward the state legislators in general, but particularly in terms of the perceived trustworthiness of those politicians. It was the older students who showed the most gain, as well as those who originally were less favorably inclined and who were original
ly less knowledge ab le about the political system.
This increase in posi
tiveness was also determined to be a significant intervening influence, i.e.,
changes in this attitude appeared to contribute to changes on related so
cialization variables. In like fashion, Governor Askew profited from his TV exposure to these youngsters.
6. Greater belief that the Florida legislature did not function
The series served to reduce beliefs of secrecy in government,
particularly among the white, middle-class viewers.
7. Greater political knowledge, whether the measure was of gen
eral political knowledge, or knowledge of current legislative activities,
or knowledge about how the legislature works. There was a highly signifi
cant experimental effect, and it was most prominent among the younger, white students who performed better in school.
Exposure to the television series was unrelated, in this study, to
such major socialization phenomena as:
1. Political efficacy, where unexpected Time 1 differences exist
ed between the experimental and control subjects. Further, control analyses
gave no suggestion of an impact on this belief.
2. Reading or watching of national news. An examination of this pattern of effects indicates that cognitive vari
ables were most generally affected, while some more basic affective orienta
tions were more resistant to change. Exposure to the program series increased legislature knowledge levels by approximately one-third. A change of similar magnitude occurred on the cognitive perception of legislature non
Impact on affect, interest, and communication was less pronounced, al
though many significant differences were found.
These changes were primar
ily on me as ures closely related to the subject matter of the program series.
For ins tance, attitude toward Florida legislators changed, but general poli
tical efficacy did not; newspaper reading about the legislature was sub
stantially greater but general newspaper and television news exposure was
not. In sum, the basic attitudes and behaviors were not altered; the effect focused on specific legislature-relevant variables. The only seeming exception was political discussion, and it may well be the case that this increased discussion with family and peers was about the TV series being seen
This summary does not sufficiently identify certain clusters of behav
iors after exposure which were clearly sub-group behaviors. The set of po
litical interest and communication variables--political interest, talking reading--were all especially impact ful on the younger viewers, the 9th graders, and on the black youngs ters. Indeed, it was this last grouping
of young people who appeared to profit the most from the TV series, in terms
of instilling an interest and a discussion level not heretofore present.
This effect is noteworthy, given the lack of any significant same-race fig
ures in the series.
For two other distinct clusters of variables--attitudes toward legis
lators and personal feelings of political effectiveness--the older, ilth
grade, students gained the most. Some distinctive amount of skepticism was eliminated as a result of this rather mild experience with political television.
The final set of variables, all the knowledge indices, had its maximum effects on the younger viewers and the white ones. The younger students had the most to learn perhaps, and the white ones found it easier, or more
At best, these differential clusterings of effects may show that a
single public affairs television series can expect to impact with varying
degrees of success on young viewers in different stages of political social
ization. And the age range of the study group was limited compared to what might be contemplated if this type of series were given in-school availability across wider age/grade segments.
It is important to note before leaving this clustering effect that vir
tually no sex differences, and certainly no consistent ones, were observed.
The traditional expectation that politics is the man's role may be deterior
ating, or was not yet present for the age groups studied. One should note
that the series shows did feature women in prominent roles, in committees, in public appearances before the legislature, and in lengthy debates over an
equal rights amendment.
This emphasis on women in politics may well have
served to deter, for the female subjects, inhibiting notions about a more limited role for women in politics. Although general exposure to public
affairs information may be higher among boys, as repeated studies have
shown, when exposure is equal or controlled the impact may not be very
different on young women.
It is important to note that the impact of the "Today in the Legislature" series was rather uniform across students differing in scholastic
ability, political interest, and communication behavior. One might expect that such public affairs programming might not reach and influence the less
bright and less interested students. However, these sub-categories of view
ers did learn as much as those with greater ability and involvement in poli
tics. It seems likely that the nature of the television presentations was
an important factor contributing to the generality of effects across varied
The finding that antecedent variables tended to be unrelated to
program reactions along the interesting-dull dimension suggests that the
programming attracted all types of students equally.
We also want to discuss the evidence concerning flows of causality among the intervening variables. Panel analyses can be applied to the data in this study to determine how changes in one variable affect changes in
The matrix of intercorrelations presented in the results section
shows the basic pattern of associations between change scores on five key
variables measured at both Time 1 and Time 2. The main question involves the direction of caus ality within each pair of variables. In many cases, one variable conceptually precedes or contributes to the other; in a few cases, the causal flow is doubtful or reciprocal. One means of testing the relative contribution of each variable in a pairing is to examine cross
lagged correlations of the two variables between Time 1 and Time 2 levels
(Chaffee, Ward and Tipton, 1970). Using this procedure to resolve ques
tions of directionality, we can infer that the one variable in each of
the pairings is clearly the greater influence in all but two cases (inter
est-reading, and interest-knowledge, where the pairs appear to be reciprocal). The chart below orders the pairings from the strongest to weakest change score correlations, with the likely caus al variable listed first in
Ignoring those relationships below +. 10 as insignificant, a tentative
model of influence among intervening ariables can be proposed in this form:
From this, the impact of the televised series of legislature programs appears to be mediated primarily by affective reactions to the legislators: to the extent that evaluations become more positive, increases in interest,