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

Reviewed by Ashley Muddiman



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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