Date Thesis Awarded

5-2015

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Government

Advisor

Jaime Settle

Committee Member

Ronald Rapoport

Committee Member

Dennis Manos

Abstract

Media representation of political protest has become increasingly dismissive and negative since the 1960s (Di Cicco 2010). News media frame protest using the protest paradigm, which highlights the spectacle of a protest instead of its goals (McLeod 2007; Dardis 2006). In the past few decades, however, the public has become more tolerant toward protest. This experiment investigates a potential micro-level mechanism through which the protest paradigm might increase tolerance toward protest by undermining its perceived effectiveness.

The study creates two treatments by manipulating the intensity of the protest paradigm frame in a Washington Post article about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Results from a Mechanical Turk experiment show limited support for the proposed mechanism. Respondents treated with the high-intensity frame article feel less threatened by the Occupy Wall Street protest and are more tolerant toward the protesters; however, these treatment effects do not extend to participants’ evaluations of a hypothetical protest by either their most or least favored political group. The article treatment has no impact on participants’ attitudes towards protest generally; asking participants to imagine a hypothetical protest by their least favored group, however, decreases their tolerance toward protest as a whole.

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