The "trap" effect of television and its competitors

Klaus Schoenbach, Edmund Lauf

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45 Citations (Scopus)


The "trap" effect is the alleged ability of television (a) to disseminate political information to those who are not interested in politics and (b) to influence them more strongly than other channels of political information, such as newspapers, can. These ideas are tested in 12 European countries for the campaign of the European election in 1999: Was television really more powerful than newspapers among the many citizens who did not care about that election? The authors' analyses show that the trap power of television was far from being impressive. Also, seemingly favorable national conditions for a trap effect of television, such as more TV news coverage on the European elections and fewer TV channels to evade that coverage, did not help. Instead, personal conversations better persuaded the uninterested to turn out and vote than television (and newspapers) did.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-583+609
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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