Language use depending on news frame and immigrant origin

Dolores Muñoz, Tania Acosta, Elena Palacios, Félix Moral, Juan‐José Igartua, Itziar Fernández
Published Online:
31 Oct 2012
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 5

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The purpose of this study was to analyze the effect of the media on individuals’ specific language use in relation to a news story on immigration: the influence of the news frame and group cue. Abstraction, complexity of language use, and negative affective language were evaluated. The 523 participants were randomly distributed to each of the four experimental conditions: news frame (crime versus economic contribution) by group cue (geographical origin of the immigrants involved: Moroccans versus Latin Americans). Through content analysis of the ideas and reflections that arose after the participants read the different news stories, using the Linguistic Category Model (LCM; Semin & Fiedler, 1991) to measure abstract language and the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker, Booth, & Francis, 2007) to analyze complex language and negative affective language, it emerged that abstract language and negative affective language were more frequent in the participants assigned to the news frame on crime. Complex language was more commonly used when the news frame referred to the economic contribution of immigrants. Regression analyses showed the mediating role of attitude to immigration in the effects of news frame on negative affective language. The bootstrap method was used to assess the magnitude of the indirect effect. A significant mediator effect was also found through structural equation modeling. Analyses of covariance showed one interaction between news frame and group cue: Among those who read the news story in a frame linking immigration to crime and Moroccan origin, abstract language was more characteristic. The results are discussed from the theoretical perspective of framing.

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