Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science, MA

Committee Chair

Gainous, Jason

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Enders, Adam M.

Committee Member

Enders, Adam M.

Committee Member

Jones, Ricky

Author's Keywords

political participation; black lives matter; police brutality; trust in government; incidental exposure


The current study examines the concept of incidental versus traditional exposure to information through the context of a police brutality incident. Incidental exposure on social media is when a person is exposed to information or imagery without prior warning. It is hypothesized that 1) individuals who are incidentally exposed to a graphic police brutality event will be more likely to participate in politics and 2) will have lower perceived trust in the government. This randomized study utilizes two treatments (incidental exposure and traditional exposure) and a control group. Analysis of the data shows that support for H1 is only found when control variables are included in the regression. Support for H2 is found with the treatments by themselves and with the controls, leading to the overall conclusion that incidental exposure to police brutality events has an effect on perceived trust of the police and government, but not willingness to participate in politics.