Think-Aloud Reading: Selected Audiences’ Concurrent Reaction to the Implied Audience in Political Commentary

  • Mette Bengtsson
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


This chapter investigates how selected audiences react to the implied audience in Danish political print newspaper commentary. When introducing the concept of second persona, Edwin Black only uses vague expressions like “vector of influence” and “the pull of an ideology” about the impact of the discursive audience construction, but instead of taking this for granted. Bengtsson uses think-aloud protocol as a way of studying an audience’s reaction, getting a better grasp of how people understand, interpret and negotiate commentator discourse. The study finds that while some people engage in the implied audience offered, others have strong negative reactions refusing to take it upon them. The study shows how readers react to the commentators postulating manner and call for arguments to use in discussions with family and friend.


  1. Aalberg, Toril, Jesper Strömbäck, and Claes H. de Vreese. 2011. The Framing of Politics as Strategy and Game: A Review of Concepts, Operationalizations and Key Findings. Journalism 13: 162–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Afflerbach, Peter. 2000. Verbal Reports and Protocol Analysis. In Handbook of Reading Research, ed. Michael L. Kamil, et al., Vol. 3, 163–179. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  3. Afflerbach, Peter, and Peter Johnston. 1984. Research Methodology: On the Use of Verbal Reports in Reading Research. Journal of Reading Behavior 16: 307–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benbunan-Fich, Raquel. 2001. Using Protocol Analysis to Evaluate the Usability of a Commercial Web Site. Information and Management 39: 151–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bengtsson, Mette. 2014. For borgeren, tilskueren eller den indviede. En praksisorienteret retorisk kritik af avisens politiske kommentarer. PhD diss., University of Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2016. Det indskrevne publikum i politiske kommentarer. Rhetorica Scandinavica 71 (72): 51–70.Google Scholar
  7. Black, Edwin. 1965. Rhetorical Criticism: A Study in Method. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  8. ———. 1970. Second Persona. Quarterly Journal of Speech 56: 109–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blair, Carole. 2015. We Are All Just Prisoners Here of Our Own Device. In The Effects of Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of Effects. Past, Present, Future, ed. Amos Kiewe and David W. Houck, 31–58. Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  10. Blumler, Jay. 1997. Origins of the Crisis of Communication for Citizenship. Political & Communication 14: 395–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs. 2005. Agency: Promiscuous and Protean. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 2: 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cappella, Joseph N., and Kathleen Hall Jamieson. 1997. Spirals of Cynicism: The Press and the Public Good. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Ceccarelli, Leah. 2001. Shaping Science with Rhetoric. The Cases of Dobzhansky, Schrödinger, and Wilson. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Compton, B.J., and G.D. Logan. 1991. The Transition from Algorithm to Retrieval in Memory-based Theories of Automaticity. Memory & Cognition 9: 151–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Condit, Celeste Michelle. 1989. The Rhetorical Limits of Polysemy. Critical Studies in Mass Communication 6: 103–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. De Groot, A. 1965. Thought and Choice in Chess. Hague, Netherlands: Mouton.Google Scholar
  17. Duncker, K. 1945. On Problem Solving. Psychological Monographs 58: 1–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ericsson, K. Anders, and Herbert Simon. 1980. Verbal Reports as Data. Psychological Review 87: 215–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 1984/1993. Protocol Analysis: Verbal Reports as Data. Boston: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Fiske, John. 1986. Television: Polysemy and Popularity. Critical Studies in Mass Communication 3: 391–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Freedman, Aviva, and Peter Medway, eds. 1994. Genre and the New Rhetoric. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  22. Gentikow, Barbara. 1997. Retorikk og resepsjon. Et medievitenskapelig perspektiv. Rhetorica Scandinavica 3: 26–41.Google Scholar
  23. Hall, Stuart. 1980. Encoding/Decoding. In Culture, Media, Language, ed. Stuart Hall. London: Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
  24. Hayes, John R., and Linda Flower. 1977. Problem-Solving Strategies and the Writing Process. College English 39: 449–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Held, David. 2006. Models of Democracy. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  26. Hitlin, Paul A. 2005. A Content Analysis of Television Political Pundits. PhD diss., Georgetown University.Google Scholar
  27. Hjarvard, Stig. 2008. En verden af medier—medialisering af politik, sprog, religion og leg. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur.Google Scholar
  28. ———. 2009. Fra sporhunde til spåmænd. Journalister i ny fortolkningsindustri. Tid og tendenser 5: 4–9.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 2010. The Views of the News: The Role of Political Newspapers in a Changing Media Landscape. Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook 8: 25–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hobsbawm, Julia, and John Lloyd. 2008. The Power of the Commentariat: How Much Do Commentators Influence Politics and Public Life? Oxford: Editorial Intelligence Ltd in association with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.Google Scholar
  31. Hoff-Clausen, Elisabeth. 2007. Online Ethos. Retorisk kritik af karakterfremstilling i politikere, bloggere og brugerfællesskabers webretorik. PhD diss., University of Copenhagen.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 2008. Online Ethos: Webretorik i politiske kampagner, blogs og wikis. Frederiksberg C: Samfundslitteratur.Google Scholar
  33. Jasinski, James. 2001. The Status of Theory and Method in Rhetorical Criticism. Western Journal of Communication 65: 249–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jensen, Klaus Bruhn. 2012a. A Handbook of Media and Communication Research. Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies. London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  35. ———. 2012b. Lost, Found, and Made: Qualitative Data in the Study of Three-Step Flows of Communication. In The Handbook of Global Media Research, ed. Ingrid Volkmer, 435–450. Aberdeen: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  36. Katz, Elihu. 1959. Mass Communication and the Study of Culture. An Editorial Note on a Possible Future for this Journal. Studies in Public Communication 1: 1–6.Google Scholar
  37. Katz, Elihu, Jay Blumler, and Michael Gurevitch. 1974. Uses and Gratifications Research. The Public Opinion Quarterly 37: 509–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kiewe, Amos, and David W. Houck, eds. 2015. The Effects of Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of Effects. Past, Present, Future. Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  39. Kjeldsen, Jens. 2015. Det virkelige retoriske publikum. In Retorik og lärande. Nordiska konferensen för retorikforskning (NKRF) 2014, ed. Anders Sigrell and Sofi Qvarnström, 263–276. Lund: Lunds Universitet.Google Scholar
  40. Kussmaul, Paul, and Sonja Tirkkonen-Condit. 1995. Think-Aloud Protocol Analysis in Translation Studies. TTR: traduction, terminologie, rédaction 8: 177–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kvale, Steinar, and Svend Brinkmann. 2009. Interviews: Learning the Craft of Qualitative Research Interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  42. Leff, Michael. 1986. Textual Criticism: The Legacy of G.P. Mohrmann. Quarterly Journal of Speech 72: 377–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Leff, Michael L., and Gerald P. Mohrmann. 1974. Lincoln at Cooper Union: A Rhetorical Analysis of the Text. Quarterly Journal of Speech 60: 346–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Lewis, Clayton. 1982. Using the “Thinking Aloud” Method in Cognitive Interface Design. New York: IBM TJ Watson Research Center.Google Scholar
  45. Lund, Anne Katrine. 2003. Jeg er vred, så hør på mig! Om et uudnyttet potentiale i kundekontakten. Børsen Ledelseshåndbøger: Strategi og ledelse. Børsen Forum A/S.Google Scholar
  46. McCroskey, James. 2016. An Introduction to Rhetorical Communication. 9th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  47. McNair, Brian. 2000. Journalism and Democracy—An Evaluation of the Political Public Sphere. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Miller, Carolyn. 1984. Genre as Social Action. Quarterly Journal of Speech 70: 151–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Newell, A., and Herbert Simon. 1972. Human Problem Solving. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  50. Polya, G. 1954. Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning. Induction and Analogy in Mathematics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Rand, Erin. 2008. An Inflammatory Fag and a Queer Form: Larry Kramer, Polemics, and Rhetorical Agency. Quarterly Journal of Speech 94 (3): 297–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. ———. 2015. Why We Love to Hate Larry Kramer. In The Effects of Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of Effects. Past, Present, Future, ed. Amos Kiewe and David W. Houck, 193–214. Columbia: The University of South Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  53. Sadler, Barbara. 2010. Review of Helen Woods Talking with Television: Women, Talk Shows and Modern Self-Reflexivity. Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies 7: 180–182.Google Scholar
  54. Schryer, Catherine. 2002. Genre and Power: A Chronotopic Analysis. In The Rhetoric and Ideology of Genre: Strategies for Stability and Change, ed. R. Coe, L. Lingard, and T. Teslenko, 73–102. New York: Hampton Press.Google Scholar
  55. Siegler, R.S. 1987. The Perils of Averaging Data Over Strategies: An Example from Children’s Addition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 6: 250–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. ———. 1989. Hazards of Mental Chronometry: An Example from Children’s Subtraction. Journal of Educational Psychology 8: 497–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sørensen, Nanna Vestgård. 2016. Sammenhængen mellem vokale kendetegn og lytteres opfattelse af en talers personlige egenskaber. In Stemmen og tilhørerne, ed. Jette Barnholdt Hansen and Hanne Smith Pedersen, 158–178. Ödåkra, Sweden: Retorikforlaget.Google Scholar
  58. Strömbäck, Jesper. 2005. In Search of a Standard: Four Models of Democracy and their Normative Implications for Journalism. Journalism Studies 6: 331–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stromer-Galley, Jennifer, and Edward Schiappa. 1998. The Argumentative Burdens of Audience Conjectures: Audience Research in Popular Culture Criticism. Communication Theory 8: 27–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Trabasso, T., and S. Suh. 1993. Understanding Text: Achieving Explanatory Coherence through Online Inferences and Mental Operations in Working Memory. Discourse Processes 6: 3–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wander, Philip. 1984. The Third Persona: An Ideological Turn in Rhetorical Theory. Central States Speech Journal 35: 197–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Winther Nielsen, Sigge, Jesper De Hemmer Egeberg, and Martin Vinæs Larsen. 2011. Vi er alle spindoktorer. Økonomi og politik 84: 19–33.Google Scholar
  63. Wood, Helen. 2009. Talking with Television: Women, Talk Shows and Modern Self-Reflexivity. Urbana: University of Illinois.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mette Bengtsson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Communication and ArtsRoskilde UniversityRoskildeDenmark

Personalised recommendations