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Engineering Election Debates With Subtle Cues 105

smolloy writes "A recent innovation in televised election debates is a continuous response measure (the 'worm') that allows viewers to track the response of a sample of undecided voters in real-time. A potential danger of presenting such data is that it may prevent people from making independent evaluations. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Bristol, report an experiment with 150 participants in which they manipulated the worm and superimposed it on a live broadcast of a UK election debate. The majority of viewers were unaware that the worm had been manipulated, and yet the researchers were able to influence their perception of who won the debate, their choice of preferred prime minister, and their voting intentions."

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