Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Reed College of Media


Reed College of Media

Committee Chair

Jensen Moore.


This experimental study investigated the effects of the verbal and visual elements of a series of United States televised gubernatorial debates than took place between the 2006--2009 election years. Guided by the Social Judgment Theory and the Heuristic-Systematic Model, a series of 16 debate clips were shown to participants to gauge their attitudes and voting intentions toward the candidates running for office. The hypotheses predicted a correlation between viewers' level of interest in the topics discussed and their attitudes (positive or negative) toward the candidates, as well as their intentions to vote for them. Findings indicated that regardless of the content of the debate topics, participants had the most positive attitudes toward and the greatest intentions to vote for the LowVerbal/HighVisual gubernatorial candidates. While viewers also expressed positive attitudes toward the HighVerbal/LowVisual debaters, results indicated that they were still far more inclined to vote for the LowVerbal/HighVisual candidates. The topics discussed by the debaters elicited fairly neutral responses from the viewers. This suggests that they did not have much influence on viewers' intentions to vote for certain candidates.