Political Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 585–608 | Cite as

Disagreement, Diversity, and Participation: Examining the Properties of Several Measures of Political Discussion Network Characteristics

  • Robert Lupton
  • Judd ThorntonEmail author
Original Paper


Recent advances demonstrate that individuals think and act differently depending upon the political views of their discussion partners. However, issues of both conceptualization and measurement remain. We argue that some of these issues result from conflating what are two distinct characteristics of political discussion: disagreement and diversity. The purpose of this paper is to provide clarity to this literature by more formally distinguishing these two concepts. In doing so, we recommend a preferred measure of each. Substantively, we demonstrate that although exposure to disagreement is associated negatively with political participation, including the decision to vote, exposure to diversity is unrelated to participation. The evidence supports our argument that more formally separating the concepts of disagreement and diversity will help scholars better identify how and when social networks matter for political attitudes and behavior.


Social networks Measurement Participation 



We would like thank Adam Chamberlain for providing helpful comments in his role as discussant of a previous version of this paper that we presented on a panel at the 2014 annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association.

Supplementary material

11109_2016_9371_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 1371 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

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