Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Gaffe Appeal A Field Experiment on Partisan Selective Exposure to Election Messages*

Abstract

The possibility that citizens expose themselves to information in biased ways—so-called selective exposure—has acquired new importance as the media environment has evolved to provide more choices concerning what to watch and read. But evidence for the most prominent idea in selective exposure research—that citizens prefer attitude-consistent information—is notably mixed. Methodological challenges likely contribute to the inconclusive nature of findings, as researchers face trade-offs between the artificiality of lab environments and the difficult-to-disentangle confounds of observational analysis. We improve understanding of selective exposure in two ways. First, we consider how message aspects other than attitude-consistency affect exposure decisions. Second, we study selective exposure with an innovative field experiment conducted in the United States that addresses limitations of other approaches. Our results allow us to reach more confident conclusions about the prevalence of motivated selective exposure, and help to illuminate underpinnings of the oft-lamented tendency for campaign media to focus on candidate miscues rather than substantive policy differences.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Timothy J. Ryan is an Assistant Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, 361 Hamilton Hall, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3265 (tjr@email.unc.edu). Ted Brader is a Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, 5700 Haven Hall, University of Michigan, 505 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045 (tbrader@umich.edu). We are thankful to David Broockman and Donald Green for comments on an earlier draft, though errors are our own. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2015.62

Footnotes
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Kevin Arceneaux , and Martin Johnson . 2013. Changing Minds or Changing Channels? Partisan News in an Age of Choice. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Matthew A Baum . 2002. ‘Sex, Lies, and War: How Soft News Brings Foreign Policy to the Inattentive Public’. American Political Science Review 96(1):91109.

W. Lance Bennett , and Shanto Iyengar . 2008. ‘A New Era of Minimal Effects? The Changing Foundations of Political Communication’. Journal of Communication 58(4):707731.

David E. Broockman , and Donald P. Green . 2014. ‘Do Online Advertisements Increase Political Candidates’ Name Recognition or Favorability? Evidence From Randomized Field Experiments’. Political Behavior 36:263289.

Steven H. Chaffee , and Miriam J. Metzger . 2001. ‘The End of Mass Communication?’. Mass Communication & Society 4(4):365379.

Kenneth Y. Chay , and James L. Powell . 2001. ‘Semiparametric Censored Regression Models’. The Journal of Economic Perspectives 15(4):2942.

David J.Y. Combs , Caitlin A.J. Powell , David R. Schurtz , and Richard H. Smith . 2009. ‘Politics, Schadenfreude, and Ingroup Identification: The Sometimes Happy Thing About a Poor Economy and Death’. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 45:635646.

Philip E Converse . 1962. ‘Information Flow and the Stability of Partisan Attitudes’. Public Opinion Quarterly 26(4):578599.

Suzanna De Boef , and Paul M. Kellstedt . 2004. ‘The Political (and Economic) Origins of Consumer Confidence’. American Journal of Political Science 48(4):633649.

N.T. Feather , and Rebecca Sherman . 2002. ‘Envy, Resentment, Schadenfreude, and Sympathy: Reactions to Deserved and Undeserved Achievement and Subsequent Failure’. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 28(7):953961.

David A Freedman . 2008. ‘On Regression Adjustments to Experimental Data’. Advances in Applied Mathematics 40(2):180193.

Shana K. Gadarian , and Bethany Albertson . 2014. ‘Anxiety, Immigration, and the Search for Information’. Political Psychology 35(2):133164.

Alan S. Gerber , and Donald P. Green . 2013. Field Experiments: Design, Analysis, and Interpretation. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Alan S. Gerber , and Gregory A. Huber . 2010. ‘Partisanship, Political Control, and Economic Assessments’. American Journal of Political Science 54:153173.

William H Greene . 1981. ‘On the Asymptotic Bias of the Ordinary Least Squares Estimator of the Tobit Model’. Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society 49(2):505513.

Timothy Groeling . 2010. When Parties Attack. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Eric Groenendyk . 2013. Competing Motives in the Partisan Mind: How Loyalty and Responsiveness Shape Party Identification and Democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.

William Hart , Dolores Albarracín , Alice H. Eagly , Inge Brechan , Matthew J. Lindberg , and Lisa Merrill . 2009. ‘Feeling Validated Versus Being Correct: A Meta-Analysis of Selective Exposure to Information’. Psychological Bulletin 135(4):555588.

Andrew Healy , and Gabriel S. Lenz . 2013. ‘Substituting the End for the Whole: Why Voters Respond Primarily to the Election-Year Economy’. American Journal of Political Science 58(1):3147.

Marc J Hetherington . 1996. ‘The Media’s Role in Forming Voters’ National Economic Evaluations in 1992’. American Journal of Political Science 40(2):372395.

Douglas R Hibbs . 2000. ‘Bread and Peace Voting in U.S. Presidential Elections’. Public Choice 104:149180.

Shanto Iyengar , and Kyu S. Hahn . 2009. ‘Red Media, Blue Media: Evidence of Ideological Selectivity in Media Use’. Journal of Communication 59(1):1939.

Shanto Iyengar , Kyu S. Hahn , Jon A. Krosnick , and John J. Walker . 2008. ‘Selective Exposure to Campaign Communication: The Role of Anticipated Agreement and Issue Public Membership’. The Journal of Politics 70(1):186200.

Shanto Iyengar , Gaurav Sood , and Yphtach Lelkes . 2012. ‘Affect, Not Ideology: A Social Identity Perspective on Polarization’. Public Opinion Quarterly 76(3):405431.

Arie W. Kruglanski , and Donna M. Webster . 1996. ‘Motivated Closing of the Mind: “Seizing” and “Freezing”.’ Psychological Review 103(2):263283.

Ziva Kunda . 1990. ‘The Case for Motivated Reasoning’. Psychological Bulletin 108(3):480498.

Robert Kurzban , and C. Athena Aktipis . 2007. ‘Modularity and the Social Mind: Are Psychologists Too Self-Ish?’. Personality and Social Psychology Review 11:131149.

Yanna Krupnikov . 2011. ‘When Does Negativity Demobilize? Tracing the Conditional Effect of Negative Campaigning on Voter Turnout’. American Journal of Political Science 55(4):797813.

Richard Lau , and David Redlawsk . 2001. ‘Advantages and Disadvantages of Cognitive Heuristics in Political Decision Making’. American Journal of Political Science 45(4):951971.

Winston Lin . 2013. ‘Agnostic Notes on Regression Adjustments to Experimental Data: Reexamining Freeman’s Critique’. Annals of Applied Statistics 7(1):295318.

Diana C Mutz . 2006. Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative Versus Participatory Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Diana C. Mutz , and Byron Reeves . 2005. ‘The New Videomalaise: Effects of Televised Incivility on Political Trust’. American Political Science Review 99(1):115.

Brendan Nyhan . 2014. ‘Scandal Potential: How Political Context and News Congestion Affect the President’s Vulnerability to Media Scandal’. British Journal of Political Science 45(2):435466.

Evan Parker-Stephen . 2013. ‘Tides of Disagreement: How Reality Facilitates (and Inhibits) Partisan Public Opinion’. Journal of Politics 75(4):10771088.

Markus Prior . 2003. ‘Any Good News in Soft News? The Impact of Soft News Preference on Political Knowledge’. Political Communication 20(2):149171.

Markus Prior . 2005. ‘News vs. Entertainment: How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout’. American Journal of Political Science 49(3):577592.

Markus Prior . 2007. Post-Broadcast Democracy: How Media Choice Increases Inequality in Political Involvement and Polarizes Elections. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Markus Prior . 2013. ‘Media and Political Polarization’. Annual Review of Political Science 16:101127.

David P Redlawsk . 2002. ‘Hot Cognition or Cool Consideration? Testing the Effects of Motivated Reasoning on Political Decision Making’. The Journal of Politics 64(4):10211044.

Carsten Reinemann , James Stanyer , Sebastian Scherr , and Guido Legnante . 2012. ‘Hard and Soft News: A Review of Concepts, Operationalizations, and Key Findings’. Journalism 13(2):221239.

Timothy J Ryan . 2012. ‘What Makes Us Click? Demonstrating Incentives for Angry Discourse with Digital-Age Field Experiments’. The Journal of Politics 74(4):11381152.

David O. Sears , and Jonathan Freedman . 1967. ‘Selective Exposure to Information: A Critical Review’. The Public Opinion Quarterly 31(2):194213.

Claude M Steele . 1988. ‘The Psychology of Self-Affirmation: Sustaining the Integrity of the Self’. In Leonard Berkowitz (ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. 261302. New York: Academic Press.

Natalie Jomini Stroud . 2011. Niche News: The Politics of News Choice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Natalie Jomini Stroud , and Ashley Muddiman . 2013. ‘Selective Exposure, Tolerance, and Satirical News’. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 25(3):271290.

Charles Taber , and Milton Lodge . 2006. ‘Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs’. American Journal of Political Science 50(3):755769.

Nicholas A. Valentino , Antoine J. Banks , Vincent L. Hutchings , and Anne K. Davis . 2009. ‘Selective Exposure in the Internet Age: The Interaction Between Anxiety and Information Utility’. Political Psychology 30(4):591613.

Wilco van Dijk , Jaap Ouwerkerk , Sjoerd Goslinga , and Myrke Nieweg . 2005. ‘Deservingness and Schadenfreude’. Cognition and Emotion 19(6):933939.

Wilco van Dijk , Jaap Ouwerkerk , and Sjoerd Goslinga . 2009. ‘The Impact of Deservingness on Schadenfreude and Sympathy: Further Evidence’. The Journal of Social Psychology 149(3):390392.

Lynn Vavreck . 2009. The Message Matters: The Economy and Presidential Campaigns. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

John Zaller . 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Matthew Levendusky . 2009. The Partisan Sort. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
  • URL: /core/journals/political-science-research-and-methods
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary Materials

Ryan and Brader supplementary material
Ryan and Brader supplementary material 1

 Word (90 KB)
90 KB
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Ryan and Brader supplementary material
Ryan and Brader supplementary material 2

 PDF (211 KB)
211 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 25 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 203 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.