Does the News Shape Our Views? Effects of Media Exposure on Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Toward Drug Addicts in the Philippines

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Francis Simonh M. Bries Karryl Mae C. Ngina Joan Bonsol-Marasigan


Drug addicts as a stigmatized group became important to study due to the public sentiments, media discourses, and government actions they have stirred within the country. This research explored how information received through broadcast media (i.e. through priming) influences attitudes toward drug addicts. In this research, priming was accomplished through the exposure of the research participants to media stimuli on drug addicts. Through a 2×3 mixed design experiment, participants’ perceptions of drug addicts were measured using an explicit attitude scale and implicit attitudes measurement using the Single Target-Implicit Association Test (ST-IAT). The baseline explicit and implicit attitudes were initially measured, then re-measured after each presentation of a news report about drug addicts who have either recovered from their condition or committed a heinous crime (within-subjects). Order effects on ST-IAT scores were also accounted for by counterbalancing the order of primes presented (between-subjects). Results showed that the order of prime presentation did not result in significant differences in change of attitude. Furthermore, recovery (positive) primes result in less negative to neutral but not positive attitudes, whereas criminal (negative) primes simply return participants to almost baseline negative attitudes. Therefore, although media representations can influence public attitudes toward drug addicts, such effects are nuanced and crucially dependent on the features of media information, what representations or attributes are made salient, and what domain of attitudes is being investigated.

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