Fostering learning among women: the democratic outcomes of elaborative primes

Freddie J. Jennings, Kelsey Wexler, Gabrielle Willingham, Kate Kenski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The gender political knowledge gap has proven to be persistent and pervasive. It extends across time, geography, and cultures. When it comes to national politics, women demonstrate lower political knowledge than men, and this has a detrimental effect on a deliberative democracy. The current study employed an elaborative and political socialization theoretical perspective in addressing the gender political knowledge gap. Through an experimental design and structural equation modeling, antecedents and outcomes of political learning for women were investigated. Three conditions were created through exposure to articles before watching a televised presidential debate. Women were either given a motivation prime, which explained how a political issue related specifically to women; an ability prime that provided background information on an issue; or a nonpolitical prime. Both the motivation and ability (through increased elaboration) enhanced learning. The enhanced learning predicted increased intentions to discuss the issue and seek additional issue-relevant information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunication Quarterly
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • elaboration
  • Gendered political knowledge gap
  • political learning
  • presidential debate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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