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Role-Model-In-Chief: Understanding a Michelle Obama Effect

  • Christina S. Haynes (a1) and Ray Block (a1)


Because of the national conversation about her status as a role model, the former First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) presents an opportunity to analyze an Obama effect—particularly, the idea that Michelle Obama's prominence as a political figure can influence, among other things, citizens’ impressions of black women in America. Using evidence from the 2011 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post survey, we demonstrate that Michelle Obama's status as a role model operates as a “moderated mediator”: it transmits the effect of the former FLOTUS’ media activities to respondents’ racial attitudes, and the degree to which role model status functions as a mediating variable differs by race (and, to a lesser degree, by gender). Thus, our research provides both a theoretical and an empirical contribution to the Obama-effect literature.

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Politics & Gender
  • ISSN: 1743-923X
  • EISSN: 1743-9248
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-gender
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