“Biased” Systematic and Heuristic Processing of Politicians’ Messages: Effects of Source Favorability and Political Interest on Attitude Judgment

Sungeun Chung, Moniza Waheed


This study investigated two information-processing modes for political messages from favored politicians: “biased” systematic processing and heuristic processing. In an experiment, college students (N = 183) with different levels of political interest received messages about unfamiliar political issues from either a favored or a less favored candidate in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. For those with low levels of political interest, source favorability had a direct effect on attitudes, indicating heuristic processing. For those with high political interest, source favorability had an indirect effect on attitudes through message-relevant thoughts, indicating biased systematic processing. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.


politicians’ messages, source favorability, bias hypothesis, political interest, heuristic processing

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