Lobinger, Katharina, & Cornelia Brantner (2015, February). Likable, funny or ridiculous? A Q-sort study on audience perceptions of visual portrayals of politicians. Visual Communication, 14(1), 15-40.

Abstract: Visual elements are central components of current political communication. Visual portrayals, for example, convey cues and attributes that can affect the perceived credibility, truthfulness, and suitability of politicians. The pervasive use of images in politics has made visual political communication an important research area. Yet, analyses in the field predominantly use content analyses to examine the valence of visual portrayals. The present study investigates how the audience actually interprets visual cues and composition elements in the images of politicians and compares the results with the findings of content analyses. A card-sorting technique (Q-sort) and qualitative interviews are employed to capture subjective and intuitive interpretations of 33 color photographs of a politician. When compared with the attribute measurements of previous content analyses, the results show a strong accordance in the audience interpretation and the attribute analysis regarding an unfavorable political depiction. However, the findings indicate disagreement about the composition of a favorable depiction.

Katharina Lobinger <katharina.lobinger@uni-bremen.de> is affiliated with Zentrum für Medien-, Kommunikations-und Informationsforschung / Centre for Media, Communication and Information Research, the University of Bremen, Germany.

ZeMKI, University of Bremen, Germany

Cornelia Brantner

University of Vienna, Austria

Katharina Lobinger

ZeMKI, University of Bremen, Germany

Cornelia Brantner

University of Vienna, Austria

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