PSY FPX 7520 Assessment 2 Minimizing Social Influence in Debates
Phillip April 23, 2024 No Comments

PSY FPX 7520 Assessment 2 Minimizing Social Influence in Debates

PSY FPX 7520 Assessment 2 Minimizing Social Influence in Debates


Capella university

PSY FPX 7520 Social Psychology

Prof. Name



In my role as a political advisor for the League of Women, I’ve been tasked with devising guidelines for conducting impartial and equitable public town hall debates. This presents a challenge due to the significant influence of both social media and mainstream media on public perceptions, which have become crucial in shaping opinions and beliefs. Understanding the psychological dynamics and impacts at play in this context is paramount. Social psychology delves into how individuals behave in social settings and how they perceive and respond to others (Van Lange, Kruglanski, & Higgins, 2012). Our social perceptions shape how we interpret events and formulate responses (Van Lange et al., 2012).

To counteract the sway of social and media influences, political consultants must scrutinize the questions posed by the media, ensure moderators allocate equal time to candidates, and guarantee fair and meaningful questioning by mediators. The moderator’s conduct significantly affects debate outcomes, with the framing and handling of questions playing a pivotal role. Moderators’ motives often revolve around audience engagement, personal gain, or sensationalism rather than focusing on substantive issues (Turcotte, 2014). Despite the introduction of the town hall format by the Commission on Presidential Debates in 1992, the press continues to wield influence over the questions asked (Turcotte, 2014). However, the town hall format tends to steer away from conflict, prioritizing public inquiries about plans and proposals (Turcotte, 2014).

PSY FPX 7520 Assessment 2 Minimizing Social Influence in Debates

Final Deliverable:

Town hall-style meetings offer a platform for more transparent and impartial debates. With the audience primarily driving the discussion, moderator influence is minimized.


  • Moderator bias influencing the audience.
  • Challenges accommodating a large audience’s questions.
  • Potential disruptions from unruly audience members.
  • Inappropriate or off-topic questions from the audience.

Project Budget / Spending Estimate:

No specific budget is proposed for this initiative, which aims to enhance debate formats and mitigate the impact of social influences without incurring additional costs.

Research-based Guidelines for Fair Public Debates and Media Coverage:

To ensure fairness in public town hall meetings, it’s essential to acknowledge the influence of social and media dynamics. Social media platforms serve as real-time arenas for political discourse, often shaping initial reactions as significantly as the debates themselves (Pfeiffer, 2015). The League of Women Voters (2016) emphasizes the importance of pre-debate preparation, critical observation during the debate, and thoughtful reflection afterward. Turcotte (2014) observes that town hall-style debates prioritize substantive policy discussions over entertainment, contrasting with traditional formats. Rooy, Wood, & Tran (2016) highlight how social comparisons influence group dynamics, shaping individual attitudes and behaviors.

Guidelines for Fair Public Debate:

Drawing on Festinger’s Social Comparison Model (Van Lange et al., 2012), these guidelines emphasize the importance of unbiased moderation, minimizing moderator influence, and fostering an environment conducive to substantive discussion. Non-verbal cues, such as body language, can subtly sway audience perceptions (CNN, 2012). In a town hall setting, audience involvement can encourage candidates to focus on pertinent issues and avoid confrontational rhetoric. Moderators must ensure fairness, manage audience participation, and select neutral venues to uphold the integrity of the debate.


CNN. (2012). Decoding body language from the final debate [Transcript]. Retrieved from

League of Women Voters (n.d.). Retrieved from

Pfeiffer, D. (2015). How social media is revolutionizing debates. Retrieved from

PSY FPX 7520 Assessment 2 Minimizing Social Influence in Debates

Rooy, D., Wood, I., & Tran, E. (2016). Modeling the emergence of shared attitudes from group dynamics using an agent-based model of social comparison theory. System Research & Behavioral Science, 33, 188-204.

Turcotte, J (2014). The news norms and values of presidential debate agendas: An analysis of format and moderator influence on question content. Mass Communication and Society, 18(3), 1-20.

Van Lange, P.A.M., Kruglanski, A.W., Higgins, E.T. (2012). Handbook of theories of social psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.