Professors Vincent Price and Joseph Cappella and Ph.D. candidate Lilach Nir received the "Best Article" award from the Political Communication Division at the International Communication Association annual conference in San Diego. The award, which honors the year's best article published in political communication, was given for two articles that appeared in a special issue of Political Communication on "Political Communication in the 2000 Election," edited by Bruce Bimber, Volume 19, Number 1 (Winter, 2002). The winning articles, which appear side by side in the issue, are: "Argument Repertoire as a Reliable and Valid Measure of Opinion Quality: Electronic Dialogue During Campaign 2000" and "Does Disagreement Contribute to More Deliberative Opinion?"
Abstract "Argument Repertoire": A new measure of opinion quality that we name "argument repertoire" (AR) is introduced and evaluated. AR refers to the relevant reasons that one has for one's own opinions and the relevant reasons that others with opposite opinions might have. The measure is shown to be reliable and to have construct validity. Those with elevated AR also were more likely to attend on-line deliberative groups during the presidential election and to contribute to those conversations. Those who participated in online deliberations tended to have higher AR scores on particular issues that were discussed. The role of AR in deliberative political groups is explored.
Abstract "Does Disagreement": Theorists have argued that discussion and disagreement are essential components of sound public opinion, and indeed that both are necessary for effective democracy. But their putative benefits have not been well tested. Consequently, this article examines whether disagreement in political conversation contributes to opinion quality-specifically, whether it expands one's understanding of others' perspectives. Data are drawn from a survey of the American public (N = 1,684) conducted in February and March 2000. Open-ended survey measures of "argument repertoire"-reasons people can give in support of their own opinions, as well as reasons they can offer to support opposing points of view-are examined in light of numerous explanatory variables, including the frequency of political conversation and exposure to disagreement. Results confirm the hypothesis that exposure to disagreement does indeed contribute to people's ability to generate reasons, and in particular reasons why others might disagree with their own views.