AR; About HMP and involvement

Just a brief rundown on a fresh article from Communication Research; it is about the Hostile Media Perception (HMP), which as memory serves I have touched upon in an earlier article review. To jump a bit ahead: yes, those involved (because of underlying values) will perceive media as biased. In general.

HMP is a broader term encompassing phenomena related to how consumers of texts, depending on their level of involvement in an issue, might perceive these texts as biased. One of the examples of HMP is “the tendency for people who are highly involved in an issue to see news coverage of that issue as biased, particularly as biased against their own point of view.”

The article reviews previous research about HMP, tracing it back to its origin, a classic study by Vallone et al. (1985), about identical news reports evaluated differently by 2 groups whose members were biased towards different directions.

The authors conclude that the notion of involvement is seriously underconceptualized, and of course differently operationalized in various studies. Not good. Following Johnson and Eagly (1989), they establish at least 3 different types of involvement:

  1. value-relevant or ego-involvement, referring to the psychological state that is created by the activation of attitudes linked to important values.
  2. outcome-relevant involvement, or involvement because of future consequences of the issue at hand,
  3. impressiono-relevant involvement, which is not explicated here.

The authors set up an experiment – the details of which I won’t cover here -, and reached the following conclusions:

  • value-relevant involvement is a significant predictor of HMP, but
  • outcome-relevant involvement is not.
  • HMP is also a function of one’s media skepticism: the more skeptical one is, the larger the expected HMP
  • and HMP also influenced people’s perception about the direction of media influence, which in turn influenced their perception of public opinion. In other words, the larger the HMP, the more likely for the subject it is to presume greater media influence on others in a direction incongruent with his/her own opinion.

Choi, Jounghwa, Myengja Yang and Jeongheon JC Chang (2009): “The Roles of Involvement, Media Skepticism, Congruency of Perceived Media Influence, and Perceived Opinion Climate”; Communication Research (36), 54-75.

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