Research in Progress: Exploring message repetition strategies in digital political communication

July 25, 2019

Juliana Fernandes and Weiting Tao and Yi Grace Ji

By Juliana Fernandes and Weiting Tao, University of Miami, and Yi Grace Ji, Virginia Commonwealth University

Repetition permeates our lives. Every day we are exposed to numerous stimuli that are repeated multiple times.

Just think about your news consumption routine. You open your Facebook page and there is a news story about an important sociopolitical issue. You then open your email and the media sources you subscribe to alert you about the same story.

Later in the day, you may get an alert on your phone about that story again. You decide to get a cup of coffee at the cafeteria and the TV is on. You, one more time, watch a broadcast of the same news story. Nowadays it is almost inevitable that you are exposed to the same news multiple times in a short time span. Therefore, an important question arises: What does this repeated exposure do to your attitude and behavior toward that particular issue?

Some news messages come in the form of a narrative. It tells you a story filled with characters, emotions and intricacies. A narrative may be text-heavy or rich in visuals. Other news messages, however, convey information primarily via numbers and statistics. They aim to present facts and provide objective evidence.

In our Page Center-funded study, we will draw on insights from transportation theory, which examines the ability of narratives to persuade individuals by connecting them with the narrative world rather than reality.

We also borrow insights from media exposure literature and political communication research. To test this multidisciplinary theoretical framework, we will conduct two experiments featuring the aforementioned message-level factors that may influence public opinions.

Our project not only investigates this repeated exposure phenomenon, but also examines the format through which the news message is repeatedly delivered to us. Considering such variation in message format, we seek to understand whether these formats, when repeatedly disseminated to us at different frequencies, may yield different impacts on our beliefs, attitudes and behaviors toward critical sociopolitical issues. 

Results of this research will contribute to our body of knowledge on how narrative communication may play a role in provoking attitudinal and behavioral change and influencing public opinions. These results will also deepen our understanding regarding the effectiveness of storytelling in digital political communication. Communication professionals may find the results useful in guiding the design and implementation of message strategies targeting specific sociopolitical issues.

For further information on this study, please email Juliana Fernandes at juliana@miami.eduWeiting Tao at or Yi Grace Ji at Results from the study will be available next year. This project is supported by a Page/Johnson Legacy Scholar Grant from the Arthur W. Page Center