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The third-person effect is a term that refers to the documented belief held by many people that mass communication has different and greater effects on others than on themselves, and because of this perception, some of these people will support certain policies and actions based upon the presumed effect on others. The phenomenon has been linked to public opinion research, and it often is studied through survey research methods.

Background and Theoretical Origins

What began as an eclectic litany of recollections and ruminations accumulated over nearly a lifetime of one scholar's experience—supplemented by little formal data or analysis—blossomed into a fertile site of rigorous interdisciplinary scholarship.

In his seminal work in the early 1980s, W. Phillips Davison relayed several anecdotes of how different people in different circumstances estimated ...

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