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In-Your-Face Politics: The Consequences of Uncivil Media, Diana C. Mutz

Reviewed by Ashley Muddiman

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Citizens, politicians, and journalists alike enjoy decrying political incivility. Diana C. Mutz complicates these attacks on incivility by investigating the effects of in-your-face politics. In-your-face political television includes two attributes: it contains incivility, that is, violations of face-to-face interaction norms, and it violates norms of interpersonal social distance by including close-up shots that make a televised person appear physically close to the viewer. Mutz’s thorough analysis suggests that in-your-face television, while damaging to citizens, also is more arousing and entertaining than civil political television.

Mutz investigates the effects of in-your-face politics using a convincing multimethod approach. A series of tightly constructed lab experiments provide causal evidence that in-your-face political talk shows with both incivility and close-up camera shots increase physiological arousal, entertainment value of the show, and open-ended recall of political candidate issue positions. However, people who watched in-your-face television believed that the arguments made by candidates they opposed were less legitimate than people who saw other types of televised political interactions. Further, incivility alone—even without close-up camera shots—decreased individuals’ levels of political trust. Mutz tests the extern

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