Televised Presidential Debates and Learning in the 2012 Korean Presidential Election: Does Political Knowledge Condition Information Acquisition?

Han Soo Lee, Jae Mook Lee


This study examines the effects of watching TV debates on voters’ learning. Analyzing panel survey data conducted in the 2012 South Korean presidential election, we test whether voters learn about candidates through viewing presidential debates. In particular, this study finds that the information effects of watching TV debates are differential across individuals depending on their levels of political knowledge. The findings of this study show that viewing TV debates positively affects learning in general. Individuals are more likely to assimilate information through viewing televised debates if they watch TV debates more often and pay more attention to televised debates. Furthermore, this study reveals that the learning effects are heterogeneous across individuals according to their political knowledge. Citizens who are politically less knowledgeable, for instance, tend to learn more about candidates’ campaign proposals through viewing televised debates.


TV debate, political knowledge, learning, differential effects, Korean politics

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