Professors Eun Go & Sushma Kumble
14 October 2014
Key Theoretical Arguments & Hypotheses
The research article I chose for my critique discusses how media framing can alter one’s perception of an event. The authors began their article by discussing how the media portrays acts of terrorism and how these depictions affect the public’s conceptions of terrorism. Additionally, the authors discuss how certain images of terrorism displayed in media evoke certain emotional responses and how these responses can increase or decrease support for government policies. The study took these two concepts and formed two research questions. For each research question, a set of three hypotheses were designed, creating a total of six hypotheses (Iyer et al., 2014).
The first research question asked “How do images of terrorism elicit distinct emotional responses?” (Iyer et al., 2014). The hypotheses formed from this question included:
H1: "Images depicting victims of terrorism should focus viewers' appraisals on the victims' undeserved suffering, and thus should elicit feelings of sympathy"
H2: "Individuals who see images of terrorists and appraise terrorists as dangerous and threatening should experience increased feelings of fear"
H3: "Viewing pictures of perpetrators is likely to increase appraisals of injustice and should increase feelings of anger"
The independent variables in these first three hypotheses are images that depict: victims (H1), terrorists (H2) and perpetrators (H3). In these first three hypotheses, the participants' appraisals function as mediating variables: appraisals of victims' suffering (H1), terrorists as dangerous (H2) and injustice (H3).The dependent variables in these hypotheses are emotions felt by the participants after viewing these images: sympathy (H1), fear (H2) and anger (H3) (Iyer et al., 2014).
The second research question asked “What are the political implications of fear, anger and sympathy about terrorism?” (Iyer et al., 2014). The hypotheses formed to answer this question were as follows:
H4: "Sympathy should predict support for government policies that will help victims of terrorism"
H5: "Fear should predict support for government efforts to appease terrorists"
H6: "Anger should predict support for aggressive counterterrorism policies that directly confront the threat of terrorism".
The independent variables in these hypotheses are emotions felt by participants: sympathy (H4), fear (H5) and anger (H6). The dependent variables in these hypotheses are levels of support for government policies: to help victims (H4), efforts to appease terrorists (H5) and policies to confront terrorist threats (H6) (Iyer et al., 2014).
The researchers showed participants pictures of the 2005 London bombings that were manipulated through a between-studies design. Half the participants were shown pictures of the bombing victims while the other half were shown photos of the terrorists. After being shown these images, the researchers measured how participants felt about the images and several anti-terrorist policies (Iyer et al., 2014).
The ultimate sample for the study was comprised of 235 British participants ranging from 18-68 years old with a 143:92 male to female ratio. A majority of the participants dwelled in metropolitan areas and held a left-wing political affiliation. Researchers recruited this sample through a snowball sampling technique via email (Iyer et al., 2014). Researchers asked that this convenience sample would then forward the invitation onto another set of people resulting in the 235 participant sample.
The first assessment consisted of three items that measured how the participants viewed terrorist threats. In the second measure the participants read an article recapping the 2005 London bombings. The article presented both sides; the terrorists beliefs and mandates and the victims who were affected/injured by the attack. For the third assessment,