Americans are disgusted with watching politicians screaming and yelling at one another on television. But does all the noise really make a difference? Drawing on numerous studies, Diana Mutz provides the first comprehensive look at the consequences of in-your-face politics. Her book contradicts the conventional wisdom by documenting both the benefits and the drawbacks of in-your-face media.
"In-your-face" politics refers to both the level of incivility and the up-close and personal way that we experience political conflict on television. Just as actual physical closeness intensifies people's emotional reactions to others, the appearance of closeness on a video screen has similar effects. We tend to keep our distance from those with whom we disagree. Modern media, however, puts those we dislike in our faces in a way that intensifies our negative reactions. Mutz finds that incivility is particularly detrimental to facilitating respect for oppositional political viewpoints and to citizens' levels of trust in politicians and the political process. On the positive side, incivility and close-up camera perspectives contribute to making politics more physiologically arousing and entertaining to viewers. This encourages more attention to political programs, stimulates recall of the content, and encourages people to relay content to others.
In the end, In-Your-Face Politics demonstrates why political incivility is not easily dismissed as a disservice to democracy—it may even be a necessity in an age with so much competition for citizens' attention.
Diana C. Mutz is the Samuel A. Stouffer Professor of Political Science and Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where she serves as director of the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics at the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Her books include Population-Based Survey Experiments (Princeton), Hearing the Other Side, and Impersonal Influence.
"With ample humor and sufficient exposition for a lay audience, she conducts and analyzes a series of experiments carefully crafted to study how extreme close-ups and uncivil behavior in political TV affect the public discourse. . . . An approachable yet scientifically rigorous look at what passes for political discourse in America."--Kirkus
"[Mutz’s] lively and lucid book sheds light on the relationship between political programming and public engagement."--- Glenn Altschuler, Huffington Post
"Mutz offers an engagingly readable, data-rich work on mediated politics of a particular kind. . . . In-Your-Face Politics is strongly recommended for college and university libraries."--Choice
"This book is likely to join Mutz’s previous work as an indispensable contribution to the political communication and psychology literatures. . . . It is probably a rare thing to call an academic text entertaining, but Mutz has been among my favorite scholars to read, and this book was no exception. Balancing thoroughness with accessibility, the writing will satisfy serious academics while appealing to a more general audience. The book should serve as a model for anyone who wants to do good political science and write about it in a clear and personable manner."--Bryan T. Gervais, Public Opinion Quarterly
"More Americans get their news from audiovisual channels than ever before, and In-Your-Face Politics shows why the practice of democracy is suffering as a result. Mutz impressively reveals how visual news formats tend to polarize partisans and diminish trust in government. So long as engaging citizen attention remains a central challenge of democratic governance, her book offers a warning and a way forward that anyone concerned about the future of news would do well to heed."--Scott L. Althaus, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Table of Contents
Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Diana C. Mutz: