Toward an Implicit Cognition Account of Attribute Agenda Setting
We propose an implicit cognition account of attribute agenda setting (AAS). We draw a distinction between implicit AAS, which conceptualizes media effects on automatically activated object-attribute associations, and explicit AAS, which deals with their overt expression. Previous research has relied almost exclusively on explicit AAS. This is unfortunate, because people must have the motivation and the ability to report inner mental associations. We investigated AAS in the context of the 2014 European Union parliamentary elections using a content analysis and a two-wave panel survey. Exposure to the mediated attribute agenda elicited implicit AAS effects, but no impact on the explicit dimension could be discerned. Only by additionally taking into account implicit cognition were we able to reveal substantial AAS effects.