Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Mass Communication and Society 17:2 (2014), pp. 217-235; doi: 10.1080/15205436.2013.779718


Copyright © 2013 Mass Communication & Society Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication; published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


The people we see in news media can affect our perceptions of public opinion through exemplification. Although research shows that individuals interviewed in a news story can influence perceptions of public opinion, little attention has been paid to the role that source type and audience attitudes play in the exemplification process. This study tests how the exemplification process is influenced by different types of news sources featured in an article (e.g., vox pop, protester, and interest group interviews) and the audience’s own political ideology. The study finds that the perceived typicality of sources is affected by both source type and how much an audience member agrees with the source. Source type is also found to directly affect perceptions of public opinion.