Political Behavior

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 266–284 | Cite as

Cognitive information levels, voter preferences, and local partisan political activity: A field experimental study on the effects of timing and order of message presentation

  • David A. Bositis
  • Denise L. Baer
  • Roy E. Miller


This article is based upon a factorial design field experiment conducted during the 1980 election campaign. The experiment was conducted to assess whether there is an optimal message strategy available to local party workers in their efforts to inform and persuade voters. The study assesses whether the timing of communications, i.e., near or distant to election day, and the order of message presentation, i.e., whether presenting important information early or late in a communication, have any effects upon voters' information levels and electoral decisions. The analysis supports an interpretation of recency effects, i.e., information presented last in a partisan appeal was more likely to facilitate information and persuasion effects than information positioned first. However, this finding was conditioned upon the timing of message presentation with appeals referencing familiar partisan material only effective near to election day and appeals referencing less familiar and nonpartisan material only effective further from election day.


Experimental Study Field Experiment Factorial Design Political Activity Recency Effect 
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Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc. 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • David A. Bositis
    • 1
  • Denise L. Baer
    • 2
  • Roy E. Miller
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceThe George Washington UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceHobart and William Smith CollegesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceSouthern Illinois UniversityUSA

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