Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections

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Image Bite Politics is the first book to systematically assess the visual presentation of presidential candidates in network news coverage of elections and to connect these visual images with shifts in public opinion. Presenting the results of a comprehensive visual analysis of general election news from 1992-2004, encompassing four presidential campaigns, the authors highlight the remarkably potent influence of television images when it comes to evaluating leaders. The book draws from a variety of disciplines, including political science, behavioral biology, cognitive neuroscience, and media studies, to investigate the visual framing of elections in an incisive, fresh, and interdisciplinary fashion. Moreover, the book presents findings that are counterintuitive and challenge widely held assumptions—yet are supported by systematic data. For example, Republicans receive consistently more favorable visual treatment than Democrats, countering the conventional wisdom of a "liberal media bias"; and image bites are more prevalent, and in some elections more potent, in shaping voter opinions of candidates than sound bites. Finally, the authors provide a foundation for promoting visual literacy among news audiences and bring the importance of visual analysis to the forefront of research.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the 2010 Outstanding Book Award from the International Communication Association!

"This smoothly-written, data-rich book is a powerful reminder of the importance of visual images in politics. The authors' research taps into multiple literatures including communication, psychology, political science and biology to present an extraordinarily well-rounded analysis of visual framing of elections. This unique study is essential reading for anyone who wants to know how political communication actually works during major electoral contests."—Doris Graber, Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago

"Scholars and pundits have long acknowledged (and often lamented) the role of image in politics. Yet, systematic studies of image have been rare. This book not only fills that gap, but it also does so with unparalleled substantive and methodological rigor. It is sure to serve as a launching point for an entire field of study on image and politics." —James N. Druckman, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University

"Grabe and Bucy show how visual images convey information and demonstrate the impact images in news coverage inform and move the electorate. Image Bite Politics is thoughtful, carefully wrought, impressive and path breaking."—George E. Marcus, Professor of Political Science, Williams College

"This volume presents an unusually detailed, extensively referenced and thoroughly researched argument for taking the visuals of television news seriously as a source of political information. Cogently and clearly written, it includes a broad sweep of the history of the development of the human eye and the brain in processing visual and verbal information as well as extensive data from four consecutive presidential elections. As such, it breaks with the tradition in most election studies of privileging the word over the image and takes the visual dimension of television more seriously than most scholars of politics have thus far. For those interested in the role of television and visual images in elections and political communication, this is an essential work." —David H. Weaver, Roy W. Howard Professor in Journalism and Mass Communication Research, School of Journalism, Indiana University

"Grabe and Bucy introduce contemporary neuroscience to the analysis of voters' perception and responses to the televised coverage of politics. Because emotional responses are more rapid than cognitive analysis and judgment, this approach shows why theories based on print communication or "rational choice" often fail to describe political life. It's past time that a scientific understanding of non-verbal cues and visual framing are integrated to a comprehensive assessment of television news, campaigns, and the emotional dimension of politics. The result is a book that should become a classic that is required reading throughout the political science discipline (and not just in studies of the role of media in American politics)." —Roger Masters, Research Professor at Dartmouth College, Nelson A. Rockefeller Professor of Government, Emeritus at Dartmouth College and President of the Foundation for Neuroscience and Society

"...Image Bite Politics should be added to the reading list of any media or political communication scholar. The book's comprehensive and historically oriented literature review, its in-depth content-analytic research, and its new and fascinating findings all contribute to a blossoming research area within political communication scholarship. This,
coupled with an extremely accessible writing style, demonstrates Grabe and Bucy's ability to masterfully present compelling research that is useful to communication scholars and political scientists alike." —Political Communication journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195372076
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 3/2/2009
  • Series: Series in Political Psychology Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Maria Elizabeth Grabe is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University, Bloomington and a Research Associate of the Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Erik Page Bucy is Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and School of Informatics at Indiana University, Bloomington.

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Table of Contents

1 Why Visuals Matter 3

2 Image Bite News 52

3 Visual Framing 85

4 Facing the Electorate 746

5 Visual Bias 788

6 Visual Influence 224

7 Taking Television Seriously 266

Appendix 1 282

Appendix 2 285

Appendix 3 289

Appendix 4 293

Appendix 5 300

Appendix 6 302

Index 305

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