We use national survey data to examine the extent to which various sources of political information expose people to dissimilar political views. We hypothesize that the individual’s ability and desire to exercise selective exposure is a key factor in determining whether a given source produces exposure to dissimilar views. Although a lack of diverse perspectives is a common complaint against American news media, we find that individuals are exposed to far more dissimilar political views via news media than through interpersonal political discussants. The media advantage is rooted in the relative difficulty of selectively exposing oneself to those sources of information, as well as the lesser desire to do so, given the impersonal nature of mass media.
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