Split-Screen Versus Single-Screen Formats in Televised Debates: Does Access to an Opponent's Nonverbal Behaviors Affect Viewers' Perceptions of a Speaker's Credibility?
Perceptual and Motor Skills
Compared to televised debates using a single-screen format, those using a split screen, ie., those showing both debaters simultaneously, provide viewers greater access to the nonverbal reactions of a debater's opponent. This study examined the effect of such nonverbal reactions on viewer's perceptions of a speaker's credibility. Students watched one of four versions of a televised debate. One version used a single-screen format, showing only the speaker, while the other three verions used a split-screen format in which the speaker's opponent displayed constant, occasional, or no nonverbal disagreement with the speaker. After watching the videos, students rated the speaker's credibility. Analysis indicated that the speaker was given significantly higher character and competence ratings when his opponent was in constant disagreement than when his opponent was not shown or when his opponent indicated moderate and no disagreement. Moreover, the speaker was given significantly higher ratings for composure and sociability when his opponent was in constant disagreement than when his opponent was not shown or when his opponent indicated no disagreement. These results and their implications are discussed.
Seiter, J. S., **Abraham, J. A., & **Nakagama, B. T. (1998). Split-Screen Versus Single-Screen Formats in Televised Debates: Does Access to an Opponent's Nonverbal Behaviors Affect Viewers' Perceptions of a Speaker's Credibility? Perceptual and Motor Skills, 86, 491-497.