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Political Science and Political Economy Research Seminar

Visual Bias

Giulia Caprini (Oxford University)

Tuesday 13 February 2024 14:00 - 15:30

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

I study the non-verbal language of leading pictures in online news, and its influence on readers’ opinions. I develop a visual vocabulary and use a dictionary approach to analyze around 300,000 photos published in US news in 2020. I document that the visual language of US media is politically partisan and significantly polarised. I then demonstrate experimentally that the news’ partisan visual language is not merely distinctive of outlets’ ideological positions, but also promotes them among readers. In a survey experiment, identical articles with images of opposing partisanships induce different opinions, tilted towards the pictures’ ideological poles. Moreover, as readers react more to images aligned with their viewpoint, the news’ visual bias can increase issue polarization. Finally, I find that media can effectively slant readers using neutral texts and partisan pictures: this result calls for the inclusion of image scrutiny in news assessments and fact checking, today largely text-based.

The Political Science and Political Economy (PSPE) research group at the LSE brings together faculty and PhD students who do quantitative and/or formal research on political institutions, political behaviour, public policy, and political economy.

The PSPE Research Seminar provides a venue for researchers (mostly from outside of the LSE) to present their work.

These seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at 14.00-15.30, both ONLINE AND IN PERSON in room SAL 3.05, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar coordinator: Mathilde Emeriau

Contact gov.comms@lse.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list and to recieve the zoom link.

For further information please contact Maddie Giles: gov.comms@lse.ac.uk.