The Ohio State University at Newark

Swigger to Discuss “Pop Culture Politics”

NEWARK, OH, March 8, 2016 — A particularly heated election year has some people scratching their heads wondering, “Why does this candidate or that candidate attract so many followers?” The answer could be seemingly harmless TV sitcoms, according to Associate Professor of Political Science Nathaniel Swigger, Ph.D.

Swigger will present “Pop Culture Politics: Is It Really Just a TV Show?” as part of a new lecture series called Faculty Talks Outside the Box. The talk will take place on Tuesday, March 29 at noon in the Norman R. and Alethea E. Sleight Room in the John. L. and Christine Warner Library and Student Center, 1219 University Drive, at The Ohio State University at Newark.

As a political scientist, Swigger wondered whether the ways that men and women are portrayed on television alter viewers' political attitudes about gender issues, specifically access to abortion and contraception. He will present the findings of his experimental research and what it means about how our communities form opinions.

“Even though the shows in the experiment did not explicitly discuss any policy, I find that sitcoms can influence policy opinions, particularly when the show conveys a ‘boys will be boys’ mentality toward sexual behavior,” said Swigger. “This finding has important implications for public opinion scholars because it suggests that there may not be such a thing as apolitical programming, and pop culture may have a profound, overlooked effect on public opinion.”

Swigger, who has appeared on Fox 28’s Good Day Columbus news program as a political expert this primary election season, has research and teaching interests in political psychology and political communication. He is currently studying how attitudes about sexual responsibility and healthy relationships develop in adolescence, with a particular emphasis on how social networking influences individuals’ attitudes. The research is used for an anti-violence educational program in Licking County schools to help teach kids how to build healthy relationships.

During Faculty Talks Outside the Box, Ohio State Newark professors discuss recent research in their fields as it relates to our community. The next talk will be held on April 28 featuring Associate Professor of Earth Sciences Daniel Leavell, Ph.D. All talks are free and open to the public.

The Ohio State University at Newark offers the best of the Big Ten educational experience, access to Ohio State’s 200 major programs, a rich research heritage, and academic excellence.