Start Spreading the News: A Comparative Experiment on the Effects of Populist Communication on Political Engagement in Sixteen European Countries

Michael Hameleers, Linda Bos, Nayla Fawzi, Carsten Reinemann, Ioannis Andreadis, Nicoleta Corbu, Christian Schemer, Anne Schulz, Tamir Shaefer, Toril Aalberg, Sofia Axelsson, Rosa Berganza, Cristina Cremonesi, Stefan Dahlberg, Claes H. de Vreese, Agnieszka Hess, Evangelia Kartsounidou, Dominika Kasprowicz, Joerg Matthes, Elena Negrea-BusuiocSigne Ringdal, Susana Salgado, Karen Sanders, Desirée Schmuck, Jesper Stromback, Jane Suiter, Hajo Boomgaarden, Keren Tenenboim-Weinblatt*, Naama Weiss-Yaniv

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Although populist communication has become pervasive throughout Europe, many important questions on its political consequences remain unanswered. First, previous research has neglected the differential effects of populist communication on the Left and Right. Second, internationally comparative studies are missing. Finally, previous research mostly studied attitudinal outcomes, neglecting behavioral effects. To address these key issues, this paper draws on a unique, extensive, and comparative experiment in sixteen European countries (N = 15,412) to test the effects of populist communication on political engagement. The findings show that anti-elitist populism has the strongest mobilizing effects, and anti-immigrant messages have the strongest demobilizing effects. Moreover, national conditions such as the level of unemployment and the electoral success of the populist Left and Right condition the impact of populist communication. These findings provide important insights into the persuasiveness of populist messages spread throughout the European continent.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)517-538
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The data collection of Poland was supported by the National Science Center, Poland, Grant No. 2015/18/M/HS5/00080. The data collection of Romania was supported by the Doctoral School within the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration. The data collection of the Netherlands was supported by the Amsterdam School of Communication Research. The data collection of Norway was supported by the Department of Sociology and Political Science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. The data collection of Ireland was supported by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Dublin City University. The data collection of Portugal was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT): IF/01451/2014/CP1239/CT0004.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • experimental research
  • internationally comparative research
  • political engagement
  • populism
  • populist communication
  • social identity framing


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