Medium or message? Predicting dimensions of political sophistication

Zhongshi Guo, Patricia Moy

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


This investigation examines the theoretical linkage between patterns of mass media news use and various dimensions of political sophistication through three empirical models of comparison. A between-medium model traces the cognitive effects to the form of media; a between-content model isolates effects attributable to content type; and a cross-medium model explores the possibility that the effects of one medium may be mediated by use of another medium. Our explication of the dependent measure, political sophistication, limits the traditional conception to the cognitive domain and focuses attention on political interest, political knowledge, cognitive elaboration, and information processing strategies. Analyses of telephone survey data reveal that people who both frequently use and rely on newspapers outperform their television counterparts in knowledge and cognitive elaboration, but television is more effective in producing political interest and active processing of news information. Significant differences were found across different content types within each medium, and some mediating effects were detected among those using both newspapers and television.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25–50
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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