Communication Researchers Launch Study to Investigate How Viewers’ Race Impacts Perceptions and Opinions of First Presidential Debate

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NYU and Hofstra to use Dialsmith's Perception Analyzer® with live, bi-racial focus group to log real-time reactions to candidates' statements and messages.

Perception Analyzer dial testing will be used to measure real-time reactions to tonight's first Presidential Debate

Researchers at NYU and Hofstra University will be using Perception Analyzer dials to measure and compare African-American and white viewers' real-time reactions to tonight's presidential debate

This study will give us the first opportunity to understand people’s reactions to race-related communications by political candidates in the field, as opposed to understanding these reactions through a controlled experiment.

Later this evening on the Hofstra University campus, a focus group of approximately 60 college students—half, who are African-American and half, who are white—will watch the first Presidential Debate while equipped with dials that they will use to provide continuous, Moment-to-Moment feedback. The study is being led by two political communication scholars, Dr. Charlton McIlwain, associate professor of media, culture, and communications at New York University (NYU) and Dr. Philip Dalton, associate professor and chair of the Department of Rhetoric at Hofstra University.

Using the Perception Analyzer system by Dialsmith, the researchers will be monitoring each participant’s real-time, visceral reactions with a focus on understanding how the candidates’ messages and appeals resonate with the group as-a-whole and with each racial subgroup. The goal is to gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences in the impact these messages and appeals have on African-American and whites.

Added Dr. McIlwain, “This study will give us the first opportunity to understand people’s reactions to race-related communications by political candidates in the field, as opposed to understanding these reactions through a controlled experiment. So this adds to our ability to understand how individuals respond to messages about race and public policy initiatives that have implications for social policy.”

An analysis and findings of the study will be released after the debate. Dr. McIlwain and Dr. Dalton, will also be available for interviews on a limited basis, following the release of the study.    

About the Perception Analyzer
The Perception Analyzer has been the gold-standard audience response tool for capturing quantitative discrete and Moment-to-Moment feedback for more than 30 years. The dial-based system allows you to capture real time feedback and reactions to any form of test material, including political speeches and debates, concepts and messages, storyboards and advertising, television personalities and programming, and more. Researchers benefit from understanding respondents’ reactions and changing perceptions in-the-moment, helping eliminate bias and groupthink. Researchers can view results in real-time enabling deeper and more focused qualitative, follow up discussions.

About Dialsmith
Dialsmith is a Portland, Oregon-based technology company that develops products and services for research, audience engagement and live event scoring. We are pioneers in the development of tools for capturing and displaying continuous and moment-to-moment feedback and are the worldwide marketers, sellers and service providers for The Perception Analyzer, Perception Analyzer Online, ISX Scoring and Slidermetrix. Featured on CNN, FOX News, Food Network, ESPN X Games, The New York Times and more, Dialsmith’s Perception Analyzer tools are the gold standard for dial-based focus group testing, public opinion polling and audience engagement. To learn more, visit http://www.dialsmith.com.

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