Image, Political

Walter Lippmann (1922) made it clear that people do not directly experience most political affairs but rather respond to the representations of politics produced by journalists. Long before Lippmann, Niccolò Machiavelli (1513) argued that, to most people, politics is more about appearances than substance. Appearances are created with symbolic gestures. Decades of behavioral research indicate that people behave more in relation to their representations of realities than directly to the material realities.

In the study of political behavior, many scholars believe that actions are shaped in relation to perception and that messages have effects on behaviors indirectly by affecting perceptions. Political images are conceptually related to processes of political message perception and information processing. The social science construct “political image” is used to refer to cognitive ...

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