The University of Arizona

Research Briefs

Titlesort descending Synopsis Research Brief
Civil Discourse Online

A 2011 Pew Research Center study found that 61 percent of Americans believe that the Internet exposes them to greater diversity in political views than they would be exposed to otherwise, but 54 percent believe that the Internet makes it easier for them to connect with others with similar political views.  Research shows that both offline and online, Americans tend to discuss politics with people with whom they already agree.

Synopis Research Brief
Classical Rhetoric, Contemporary Science and Modern Civil Discourse

An examination of classical scholarship on the use of rhetoric makes clear that there is today a common misconception that the art of rhetoric condones and encourages persuasion by any means necessary. Politics involves passionate commitments and arguments, as well as fundamental disagreements. Rhetoric – persuasive communication – can be employed in ethical or unethical ways, and classical theoreticians reveal an imperative to promote ethical solutions to public discourse.

Synopis Research Brief
Deliberative Democracy and Civil Discourse

Widely written about by philosophers, political scientists, communications scholars and sociologists, deliberative democratic theory is a "normative theory that suggests ways in which we can enhance democracy and citizen institutions". Deliberation is thought to produce certain valued behaviors and outcomes not only at the group or societal level but also for the individuals engaging in deliberation.

Research Brief
Deliberative Practice and its Impact on Individuals and Society

Deliberative democratic practice is on the rise as policymakers seek to avoid gridlock, develop public support and backing for tough decisions and address problems that require individual and small group action or large scale behavioral change. After discussing major types of deliberative processes, and the variability in measurement, this brief summarizes key research findings about the characteristics and impact of deliberation.

Research Brief
Media and Politics

This brief summarizes research on how political factors influence media use among the American public and, conversely, how media use influences the politics of the American public, including political knowledge, ideology, partisanship and partisan polarization. These questions appear deceptively simple, but involve complex methodological issues.  The analysis is complicated further by the fact that virtually all media outlets have increased their reliance on "infotainment".

Research Brief
Negative Campaigning

Americans generally do not like “meanspirited” campaigns. There are many things to dislike about negative campaign advertising, but there is also reason to believe that campaigns will continue to use negative advertising unless greater incentives for avoiding it – and avoiding incivility – emerge.

Synopis Research Brief
New Media Use and Civic Engagement - Part 1

Usage of Internet‐based “new media” has been the subject of extensive study. As it began to take hold, some commentators argued that the Internet could reverse anticipated declines in civic engagement, but others worried that the Internet would destroy what little civic engagement was left.

Synopis Research Brief
New Media Use and Civic Engagement - Part 2

Traditionally, there have been marked disparities in political and civic engagement by age, race and gender.  In addition, those with less education and income have been less engaged in many civic and political activities.  Some worried that new media, including email, texting, online discussion groups, social-networking sites and blogs, would reflect or exacerbate these traditional disparities, while others hoped that the Internet would help level the civic and political playing field.

Synopis Research Brief
Political Knowledge, Persuasion and Campaign Rhetoric

Research suggests that many Americans are ill‐informed about politics and that, as the costs of gathering political information increase, political knowledge decreases. Research has also shown that a lower level of political knowledge generally increases one’s susceptibility to persuasion from negative advertising and emotional appeals as part of campaign rhetoric.

Synopis Research Brief
Political Polarization

Current concern about heightened polarization stems from its hypothesized negative consequences – including poor public policies, incapacity to govern and solve pressing national problems, a decline of civility in U.S. politics, widespread public frustration and declines in public trust and in the legitimacy of government and its leaders.

Synopis Research Brief