The increasing visibility of prominent political leaders in news media is well documented in political science literature. The main concern that has been raised in this connection is that the complexity of political processes is being reduced to achievements and standpoints of individual politicians, and the importance of rational opinion building is discounted. The results of the current study provide the first empirical evidence to account for the misgivings about emotional effects of personalized political information on media audiences. Using data from an online experiment, this study shows that news coverage regarding behaviors and personal characteristics of a foreign leader influences (a) evaluations of personal characteristics typical of his or her nation's citizens and (b) emotional perceptions of that leader's country (sentiment and respect). This effect is shown to reflect a psychological phenomenon whereby people project their emotions and perceptions regarding a leader's personal characteristics onto his or her country and people.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author is grateful to Tamir Sheafer, Ifat Maoz, Jon Krosnick, and Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan for help, comments, and advice on earlier versions of this article. Funding for this project was provided by the German-Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (Grant no. 2366). American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 62, No. 2, April 2018, Pp. 499–514
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