This paper presents the design of an experimental study that is part
of the project „Media as mediators of democratization, peace-building
and reconciliation in post-war societies“ of the Peace Research Group
at the University of Konstanz.
The study is intended to assess the extent to which it is possible to
modify the cognitive framing of news text material (in the direction
of constructive conflict-coverage) without being rejected by the recipient
for reasons of cognitive dissonance in regard to social beliefs.
The results of the study are expected to show, on the one hand, whether
text material developed according to previously worked-out strategies
for de-escalation oriented reporting will arouse attention, and whether
the reader will consequently develop the intended mental model of the
presented conflict. This aspect will be measured by giving test subjects
escalation- and de-escalation-oriented text material, which they are
asked to read and then reproduce. The written reproductions will be
analyzed using a quantitative coding schedule.
We will also investigate whether and how constructed text material is
received and evaluated with regard to entertainment value, news content,
credibility and balance. These aspects will be measured using a questionnaire.
The texts are related to three different events in post-war Yugoslavia.
Each event is presented in four different versions, resulting in 12
different texts. The sample will be representative for the typical readership
of three prestigious German newspapers.