Co-Viewing, Tweeting, and Facebooking the 2012 Presidential debates

Full article citation: Thorson, E., Hawthorne, J., Swasy, A., and McKinney, M.S. (2015) “Co-Viewing, Tweeting, and Facebooking the 2012 Presidential debates.” Electronic News, 9(3), 195-214. doi: 10.1177/1931243115593320.

Abstract: This article examines the impact of watching political debates with others—whether the others are personally present or linked via social media. Co-viewing theory suggests that watching television with others, in comparison to solo viewing, increases viewing enjoyment and duration. Research about watching political debates suggests that the experience may make viewers feel emotionally negative and insecure, especially when their favored candidate is attacked. Debate viewers may also relish ‘‘being part of’’ an event of national importance. These possibilities suggest that engaging in social watching behaviors, whether face-to-face and/or via social media, will amplify the positive experiences of debate viewing potentially by providing opinion confirmatory information. In turn, this may increase the likelihood of watching more debates and sticking with each debate longer. These predictions are strongly supported with a sample of American newspaper subscribers, whose political reporters had participated in a paper-sponsored debate-watch/tweet program.

Keywords: new media/social media, presidential debates, Twitter, Facebook, co-viewing, multiple screens

Here is a link to a PDF of the article.