Skip to main content

Visual Political Knowledge: A Different Road to Competence?

Author(s): Prior, Markus

To refer to this page use:
Abstract: Even though visual images and television are ubiquitous in politics, surveys rarely use visuals to assess what people know about politics. I measure visual political knowledge in a series of experiments that ask otherwise identical questions using either relevant visual elements or words only. These experiments were embedded in two representative surveys of U.S. residents conducted in 2003 and 2008. Adding a visual to an otherwise identical knowledge question causes, on average, a small but significant increase in correct answers. Treatment effects are larger for a subset of the population: women, older people, the less educated, and people with a visual cognitive style all perform disproportionately better on visual knowledge questions. Validation shows that visual knowledge is as indicative of civic competence as verbal knowledge. Hence, traditional verbal-only questions miss a significant amount of political knowledge. Several population segments previously deemed ill-informed in fact store some political information visually.
Publication Date: Jan-2014
Citation: Prior, Markus. (2014). Visual Political Knowledge: A Different Road to Competence?. The Journal of Politics, 76 (1), 41 - 57. doi:10.1017/S0022381613001096
DOI: doi:10.1017/S0022381613001096
ISSN: 0022-3816
EISSN: 1468-2508
Pages: 1 - 17
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: The Journal of Politics
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

Items in OAR@Princeton are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.