Publication details [#63329]

Vreese, Claes De, Michael Hameleers and Linda Bos. 2017. “They Did It”: The Effects of Emotionalized Blame Attribution in Populist Communication. Communication Research 44 (6) : 870–900.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
SAGE Publications


How can we clarify the persuasiveness of populist messages, and who are most receptive to their effects? These questions stay mainly unanswered in extant inquiry. This study asserts that populist messages are characterized by assigning blame to elites in an emotionalized way. As prior inquiry indicated the guiding impact of blame attributions and emotions on political attitudes, these message characteristics may clarify populism’s persuasiveness. An experiment employing a national sample (N = 721) was conducted to supply insights into the effects of and mechanisms underlying populist blame attribution concerning the European and national levels of governance. The results display that emotionalized blame attributions affect both blame perceptions and populist attitudes. Identity attachment mitigates these effects: Emotionalized blame attributions have the strongest effects for citizens with weaker identity attachments. These insights enable to grasp how populist messages influence which citizens.