The Influence of Political Cynicism and Political Efficacy on Media Use: Further findings from the IPS Survey


This seminar draws on a survey carried out last year by the Institute of Policy Studies, the first-ever nation-wide representative survey of the political use of traditional and new media in Singapore. In the telephone poll, the 1,092 Singaporeans were asked questions about their political traits and attitudes towards and use of old and new media, and mainstream and alternative media. The team, which comprises Mr Tan Tarn How, Dr Chung Siyoung and Dr Zhang Weiyu from NUS, has issued a report of initial part of the findings (see “Survey on Political Traits and Media Use” for the report and media coverage.) This seminar on 14 September will feature further findings from the survey presented by the three researchers.

Who consumes alternative political media?

Mr Tan Tarn How, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, National University of Singapore

Consumers of alternative online media are those who read non-mainstream websites such as The Online Citizen, Temasek Review and Yawning Bread. They form just over an eighth of those in the IPS survey. Our results show that they are different from other people in demographics, political traits as well as attitudes towards media.

Political cynicism and political communications in an authoritarian democracy

Dr Zhang Weiyu, Assistant Professor, Department of Communications and New Media, NUS

Political cynicism, defined as negative perceptions of the motivations of politicians, is seldom studied in authoritarian societies. From the survey, we find that Singaporeans are less politically cynical than people in the United States; males are more cynical than females; Chinese are more cynical than Indians; and the politically liberal are more cynical. There is no significant correlation between cynicism and consumption of political news in mainstream media, but a significant positive correlation between cynicism with consumption of online political news and with political talk. We discuss this in the light of Government control of mainstream media, and further analysed how trust of different media could influence media use and cynicism. We also offer policy implications of the findings.

Political efficacy, media use, and political participation

Dr Chung Siyoung, Lecturer, Department of Communications and New Media, NUS

Research in political sciences and communication has found political efficacy to be an important factor in determining the level of political engagement of citizens. Political efficacy is defined as the belief that a system can change as a result of people or of the responsiveness of institutions in the system. Using the data from the survey, this presentation looks at two dimensions of political efficacy – self-political efficacy and collective political efficacy – and their respective effects on political participation and media use. It presents a research model with theoretical and policy implications.

Please click here to view the programme.



Mr Tan Tarn How is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies. His research areas are in arts and cultural policy and media and Internet policy. He has written on the development of the arts in Singapore, in particular, fostering partnerships between the people, private and public sectors, on the creative industries in Singapore, China and Korea, on the history of cultural policy in Singapore, on censorship, and on the management of media in Singapore. He has also carried out research on the impact of the Internet and new technology on society, on the regulation of the Internet, on the role of new media in the 2008 Malaysian election and the 2006 Singapore election, on media use and political traits using on a national survey, and on the impact of new media on old media. He was a journalist for nearly one and half decades before joining IPS, and a teacher and television script writer. He is also a playwright and an arts activist.

Dr Zhang Weiyu (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communications and New Media, National University of Singapore. Her research focuses on three areas: Civic Engagement and ICTs, China and Internet, as well as Media Multitasking. She has published works on e-Deliberation, Chinese online communities, and multitasking with both mass and new media. Her current project is a cross-nation study on youth, new media and civic engagement in six Asian countries.

Dr Chung Siyoung is a lecturer at the Department of Communications and New Media at NUS. She holds a PhD in Communication (with minor in Organisational Behaviour) from Cornell University. Her research interest focuses on technology acceptances and uses in groups and organisations. She is also interested in attitudes and behaviour toward risks on the Internet such as online piracy, online privacy, and online shopping. Before joining NUS, Dr Chung worked as a marketing and advertising manager at an Internet company for two years.




Media Reports:


Wednesday, 14 September 2011
3.00 pm to 4.45 pm