Belief maintenance as a media effect: a conceptualization and empirical approach

Adam Shehata, Fabian Thomas, Isabella Glogger, Kim Andersen

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While prominent theories of media effects suggest that the maintenance of societal perceptions (and misperceptions) is a critical and distinct outcome of exposure to mediated communication, the "maintenance effect"remains poorly understood. This article provides a theoretical conceptualization and operational approach to the maintenance effect. The first part addresses the distinct properties of the maintenance effect and proposes a conceptualization anchored in theories of cognitive media effects. The second part focuses on the psychological mechanisms behind the maintenance effect, outlining factors operating in the short and long run. Finally, building upon recent statistical developments for longitudinal data analysis, the third part suggests and illustrates a specific empirical approach for analyzing the maintenance effect.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-13
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • maintenance effect
  • media effects
  • misperceptions
  • perceptions
  • public opinion
  • societal beliefs


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