A Turn Toward Avoidance? Selective Exposure to Online Political Information, 2004–2008
- 3.6k Downloads
Scholars warn that avoidance of attitude-discrepant political information is becoming increasingly common due in part to an ideologically fragmented online news environment that allows individuals to systematically eschew contact with ideas that differ from their own. Data collected over a series of national RDD surveys conducted between 2004 and 2008 challenge this assertion, demonstrating that Americans’ use of attitude-consistent political sources is positively correlated with use of more attitudinally challenging sources. This pattern holds over time and across different types of online outlets, and applies even among those most strongly committed to their political ideology, although the relationship is weaker for this group. Implications for these findings are discussed.
KeywordsSelective exposure Media Polarization Online news Elections
Thanks to Paul Beck, Lance Holbert, Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, Brendan Nyhan, and the anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful criticisms and suggestions, to Jim Danziger for his support of and Debbie Dunkle for her assistance with data collection and preparation of the 2008 NSF-funded survey, and to Lee Rainie and the Pew Internet and American Life Project for providing the other datasets. This research was supported by NSF (SES 0121232).
- Abramowitz, A. I. (2010). The disappearing center: Engaged citizens, polarization, and American democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Abramowitz, A. I., & Saunders, K. L. (2008). Is polarization a myth? Journal of Politics, 70(2), 542–555.Google Scholar
- Adamic, L., & Glance, N. (2005). The political blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. election: Divided they blog. Paper Read at 2nd Annual Workshop on the Weblogging Ecosystem: Aggregation, Analysis and Dynamics, at Chiba, Japan.Google Scholar
- AlterNet. (2011, October 11). About AlterNet 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011, from http://www.alternet.org/about/.
- American Association for Public Opinion Research. (2008). Standard definitions: Final dispositions of case codes and outcome rates for surveys (5th ed.). Lenexa, KS: AAPOR.Google Scholar
- Benkler, Y., Shawa, A., & Stoddend, V. (2010). A tale of two blogospheres: Discursive practices on the left and right. Cambridge, MA: Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.Google Scholar
- Davis, R. (2009). Typing politics: The role of blogs in American politics. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Festinger, L. (1964). Conflict, decision, and dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fiorina, M. P., Abrams, S. J., & Pope, J. (2005). Culture war?: The myth of a polarized America. New York, NY: Pearson Longman.Google Scholar
- FOX News Network. (2011). FOX news careers. FOX News Network 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from http://careers.foxnews.com/.
- Galston, W. A. (2003). If political fragmentation is the problem, is the Internet the solution? In D. M. Anderson & M. Cornfield (Eds.), The civic web. New York, NY: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.Google Scholar
- Hargittai, E., Gallo, J., & Kane, M. (2008). Cross-ideological discussions among conservative and liberal bloggers. Public Choice, 134(1–2), 67–86.Google Scholar
- Hunter, J. D. (1991). Culture war: The struggle to define America. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Knobloch-Westerwick, S., & Kleinman, S. (2011). Pre-election selective exposure: Confirmation bias versus informational utility. Communication Research.Google Scholar
- Mendelberg, T. (2002). The deliberative citizen: Theory and evidence. Political Decision Making, Deliberation and Participation, 6, 151–193.Google Scholar
- Mutz, D. C., & Martin, P. S. (2001). Facilitating communication across lines of political difference: The role of mass media. American Political Science Review, 95(1), 97–114.Google Scholar
- NewsMax. (2011). About NewsMax.com 2011. Retrieved October 11, 2011, from http://w3.newsmax.com/.
- Pew Internet and American Life Project. (2008). November 2008 post-election tracking survey dataset. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Pew Research Center. (2008). Internet overtakes newspapers as news outlet. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.Google Scholar
- Rainie, L., Horrigan, J., & Cornfield, M. (2005). The Internet and campaign 2004. Washington, DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project.Google Scholar
- Sunstein, C. R. (2001). Republic.com. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Town Hall. (2011). Conservative news, politics, opinion, breaking news analysis, political cartoons and commentary—Townhall 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from http://townhall.com/.
- Turner Broadcasting System. (2011). Career and job opportunities. Turner Broadcasting System 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from http://www.turner.com/careers/#/company/values.
- U.S. Census Bureau. (2009). Households with a computer and Internet use: 1984 to 2009. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
- Zúniga, M. M. (2011). DailyKos FAQ | dKosopedia. DailyKos 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2011, from http://www.dkosopedia.com/wiki/DailyKos_FAQ#What_is_the_purpose_of_this_site.3F.