Tweeting during a debate: Effect on candidate evaluations and debate attitudes

Full article citation: Houston, J.B., Hawthorne, J., Spialek, M., Greenwood, M., and McKinney, M.S. (2013) “Tweeting during a debate: Effect on candidate evaluations and debate attitudes.” Argumentation and Advocacy, 49(4), 301-311.

Abstract: This study examined the effects of tweeting while watching a presidential debate (live-tweeting) during the 2012 U.S. election. We examined candidate evaluations and debate attitudes for participants who did and did not tweet while watching a presidential or vice presidential debate. We found that tweeting while watching a debate was related to participants reporting more favorable attitudes about Barack Obama, paying more attention to the debate, and perceiving debates to be more important. Live-tweeting a debate was not related to enjoying the debate more. Overall, our results indicate that live-tweeting a televised political event can result in different effects than simply watching a debate and that live-tweeting debates is an activity driven by engagement with and thoughtful processing of debate content rather than primarily about fun or passing time.

Key Words: presidential debate, social media. Twitter, social watching, politics

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