People’s perceptions of the attitudes and experiences of mass collectives are an increasingly important force in contemporary political life. In Impersonal Influence, Mutz goes beyond simply providing examples of how impersonal influence matters in the political process to provide a micro-level understanding of why information about distant and impersonal others often influence people’s political attitudes and behaviors. Impersonal Influence is worthy of attention both from the standpoint of its impact on contemporary politics, and because of its potential to expand the boundaries of our understanding of social influence processes, and media’s relation to them. The book’s conclusions do not exonerate media from the effects of inaccurate portrayals of collective experience or opinion, but they suggest that the ways in which people are influenced by these perceptions are in themselves, not so much deleterious to democracy as absolutely necessary to promoting accountability in a large scale society.
• Combines innovative methods of empirical research on contemporary political attitudes with historical relevance • Multi-method approach includes surveys, time series analysis, content analysis, analysis of archival data, and quasi-experimental designContents
List of figures; List of tables; Preface; Acknowledgments; Part I. Theory and Historical Context: 1. The generalized other: social influence in contemporary American politics; 2. Beyond personal Influence: the rise of impersonal associations; 3. The origin of perceptions of mass collectives: mass media’s role; Part II. Effects of Perceptions of Mass Experience: 4. The politicization of personal and collective experience; 5. Connecting the personal and the political: media as facilitator or inhibitor?; Part III. Effects of Perceptions of Mass Opinion: 6. When does success succeed? A review of the evidence; 7. The social psychology of impersonal influence from collective opinion; 8. The role of collective opinion in individual judgment: processes and effects; Part IV. Conclusion; 9. Impersonal influence and the mass society tradition; Appendix: Methodology; References; Index.