Date of Award
Master of Science
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
An online questionnaire was administered to a sample of 233 young adults qualified to vote in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The findings show that respondents depended more on the traditional media and interpersonal sources to be aware of, form attitudes toward, and decide on political candidates and issues.
The relationships of source use at the three stages point to a general flow of information quite different from that outlined in the two-step flow hypotheses. At the awareness stage, the findings indicate that people tended to choose between the traditional media and social networking sites as their main sources of information about the presidential election. Users of both sources also refer to interpersonal sources, indicating a complementary relationship. Thus, the interpersonal sources tended to supplement, but not replace, traditional and social media use. At the stage in which voters were forming their attitude about the candidates and their platforms, all three source categories were utilized, suggesting a symbiotic type of relationship among them. At the point when voters are trying to solidify their voting choice, the correlations show the traditional and social media competing for audience attention, supplemented by interpersonal sources.
Voters used interpersonal sources across the three stages, suggesting their utility as political information conduits even in the digital age. In other words, the study failed to detect any evidence that the social media were replacing or substituting for interpersonal contacts--and the traditional media--as the main sources of presidential election information.
Li, Jo-Yun, "Re-examining The Two-Step Flow of information in the age of digital media: The case of the 2012 presidential election in the United States" (2013). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 13074.