Transparency in Political Micro-Targeting: Exploring the Effectiveness of Insight into the Black Box of Technology and Politics’ Intersection

Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Linguistics and Cognitive Science

Reader 1

Laura Johnson

Reader 2

Winston Ou

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This study examines implementations of transparency for political online advertisements while accounting for the mediating role of advertisement sentiment and political affiliation. Results from an online experiment (N = 108) demonstrate the general influence of online political advertisements as well as the significant role that valence plays in individuals’ perceptions of these advertisements including the interaction of valence with transparency. The effects of political affiliation and its intersections with valence and transparency remain inconclusive and should be explored in further research. Even when explicitly told to focus on a separate task, the study indicated that individuals tend to absorb information from online political advertisements. Therefore, proper policies must be created and implemented to ensure that these messages are not unduly influential. Transparency as an isolated variable did not appear to have an effect on the perception of advertisements as manipulated in this study. These results suggest that placement and amount of informational text do not lead to significant differences. Variance in transparency was found to be significant through its interaction with valence, suggesting that negative advertisements could require increased transparency implementation efforts compared to their positive counterparts.

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