Insidiously Trivial: Meme Format Reduces Perceived Influence and Intent to Debate Partisan Claims

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Insidiously Trivial: Meme Format Reduces Perceived Influence and Intent to Debate Partisan Claims


  • Benjamin A. Lyons Department of Communication, University of Utah, USA / Department of Politics, University of Exeter, UK


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Abstract:  If citizens systematically respond differently to claims conveyed by memes, their effects on the broader information ecosystem may be underestimated. This US-based study (N = 598) uses a 2 (partisan news/meme format) x 2 (congenial/uncongenial message) design to examine perceptions of partisan memes’ influence on self and others, and the format’s effect on willingness to share disagreement in the context of partisan claims about corruption surrounding biofuels operations. Results indicate that meme format enhances individuals’ tendency to see messages as less influential on oneself than on others and individuals less intent to share disagreement with claims presented in meme format. This decrease is mediated by the decrease in perceived influence over self. These findings call attention to the role format differences may play in the psychological processes underlying political discussion as it becomes increasingly mediated and visual.

Keywords:  corrective action; perceived media influence; partisan media; political memes; third-person effect

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v10i3.5388


© Benjamin A. Lyons. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.