Don't expect too much! learning from late-night comedy and knowledge item difficulty

Young Min Baek, Magdalena E. Wojcieszak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The debate on late night comedy has been inconclusive, with some scholars arguing that this genre increases political knowledge, and others seeing late night comedy as harmful to effective citizenry. We add to the debate and to the research on media effects more generally, by proposing a model that measures political knowledge. The model utilizes item response theory (IRT) to account for individual characteristics, knowledge item difficulty, and response format that influences the likelihood of providing a correct response. Drawing on the 2004 National Annenberg Election Study, we employ this model to test knowledge gain from late night comedy. Using a meta-analysis across 35 political knowledge items, we show that late night comedy increases knowledge, but primarily on easy political items that have fewer correct response options, and mainly among the inattentive citizens. We discuss theoretical implications and provide practical suggestions for scholarship on media effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-809
Number of pages27
JournalCommunication Research
Volume36
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Dec 1

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learning
election research
genre
citizen
Night
Comedy
Media Effects
Item Response Theory
Elections
Meta-analysis

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

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Don't expect too much! learning from late-night comedy and knowledge item difficulty. / Baek, Young Min; Wojcieszak, Magdalena E.

In: Communication Research, Vol. 36, No. 6, 01.12.2009, p. 783-809.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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