Public Opinion, Thinly Sliced and Served Hot

Gordon R. Mitchell


Perception Analyzer dial-meter technology has been increasingly deployed to track and display aggregate plots of focus group members’ real-time responses to argumentation in televised political debates convened in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere. This article examines data cited to establish the Perception Analyzer’s reliability and validity; traces the tool’s historical roots to a Cold War machine nicknamed “Little Annie”; explores recent public controversies surrounding the tool’s use; and reflects on how real-time dial metering shapes the political terrain through a hidden curriculum that teaches contestable notions of public debate spectatorship and citizenship.


Theodor Adorno, argumentation, debate, dial meter, Frank Luntz, Perception Analyzer, political communication, presidential elections, public argument, public opinion polling, public deliberation, social psychology, rhetoric

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