Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Subduing attitude polarization?: How partisan news may not affect attitude polarization for online publics

  • Eulàlia P. Abril (a1)
Abstract

Researchers have sought to understand the effects of like-minded versus contrary news exposure on attitude polarization, which can be a threat to democracy. The online news environment offers opportunities for exposure to both types of news, albeit unequally. This study tests the effects of exposure to heterogeneous partisan news bundles (both like-minded and contrary news) on attitude polarization. Because media exposure can lead to bias, attitude polarization is tested as a direct and indirect effect via hostile media perceptions. Data in this study are from a between-subjects experimental design about the issue of assisted suicide. Results indicate that even though the effect of the partisan news bundle on hostile media perceptions is significant, both direct and indirect effects on attitude polarization are null.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Correspondence: Eulàlia P. Abril, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 W. Harrison St., 1152B BSB (MC 132), Chicago, IL 60607. Email: eulalia@uic.edu
References
Hide All
1 Westfall, J., Van Boven, L., Chambers, J. R., and Judd, C. M., “Perceiving political polarization in the United States: Party identity strength and attitude extremity exacerbate the perceived partisan divide,” Perspectives on Psychological Science , 2016, 10(2): 145158.
2 Abramowitz, A., “The electoral roots of America’s dysfunctional government,” Presidential Studies Quarterly , 2013, 43(4): 709731.
3 Wojcieszak, M., Bimber, B., Feldman, L., and Stroud, N. J., “Partisan news and political participation: Exploring mediated relationships,” Political Communication , 2015, 33(2): 241260.
4 Stroud, N. J., “Polarization and partisan selective exposure,” Journal of Communication , 2010, 60(3): 556576.
5 Ward, S. J. A., The Invention of Journalism Ethics: The Path to Objectivity and Beyond (Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004).
6 Abril, E. P., “Can partisan news be valuable for discussion? An analysis of the effects of internal balance on online discussion intention,” International Journal of Communication , 2015, 9: 10291051, http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/2319/1353, accessed January 31, 2018.
7 Schudson, M., Discovering the News (New York: Basic Books, 1978).
8 Sesno, F., “Talking it out: A conversation with George Stephanopoulos on politics, the media, and the art of interviewing,” International Journal Press/Politics , 2008, 13(3): 310318.
9 Sunstein, C. R., Republic.com 2.0 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).
10 Tremayne, M., Zheng, N., Kook Lee, J., and Jeong, J., “Issue publics on the web: Applying network theory to the war blogosphere,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication , 2006, 12(1): 290310.
11 Brundidge, J., Garrett, R. K., Rojas, H., and Gil de Zúñiga, H., “Political participation and ideological news online: ‘Differential gains’ and ‘differential losses’ in a presidential election cycle,” Mass Communication & Society , 2014, 17(4): 464486.
12 Wojcieszak, M., “‘Don’t talk to me’: Effects of ideologically homogeneous online groups and politically dissimilar offline ties on extremism,” New Media & Society , 2010, 12(4): 637655.
13 Iyengar, S. and Hahn, K. S., “Red media, blue media: Evidence of ideological selectivity in media use,” Journal of Communication , 2009, 59(1): 1939.
14 Kim, Y. M., Wang, M., Gotlieb, M. R., Gabay, I., and Edgerly, S., “Ambivalence reduction and polarization in the campaign information environment: The interaction between individual- and contextual-level influences,” Communication Research , 2013, 40(3): 388416.
15 McIntyre, K., Barnes, S. R., and Ruel, L., “The effects of online news package structure on attitude, attention, and comprehension,” Electronic News , 2016, 10(3): 178193.
16 Leeper, T. J., “The informational basis for mass polarization,” Public Opinion Quarterly , 2014, 78(1): 2746.
17 Gil de Zúñiga, H., Weeks, B., and Ardèvol-Abreu, A., “Effects of the news-finds-me perception in communication: Social media use implications for news seeking and learning about politics,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication , 22(3): 105123.
18Pew Research Center, “The modern news consumer: News attitudes and practices in the digital era,” July 2016, http://www.journalism.org/2016/07/07/the-modern-news-consumer/, accessed January 31, 2018.
19 Bakshy, E., Messing, S., and Adamic, and L. A., “Exposure to ideologically diverse news and opinion on Facebook,” Science , 2015, 348(6239): 11301132.
20 Brundidge, J., “Encountering ‘difference’ in the contemporary public sphere: The contribution of the Internet to the heterogeneity of political discussion networks,” Journal of Communication , 2010, 60(4): 680700.
21 Garrett, R. K., “Echo chambers online? Politically motivated selective exposure among Internet news users,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication , 2009, 14(2): 265285.
22 Taber, C. S. and Lodge, M., “Motivated skepticism in the evaluation of political beliefs,” American Journal of Political Science , 2006, 50(3): 755769.
23 Taber, C. S. and Cann, D., “The motivated processing of political arguments,” Political Behavior , 2009, 31(2): 137155.
24 Lord, C. G., Ross, L., and Lepper, M. R., “Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects of prior theories on subsequently considered evidence,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 1979, 37(11): 20982109.
25 Coe, K., Tewksbury, D., and Bond, B. J. et al. , “Hostile news: Partisan use and perceptions of cable news programming,” Journal of Communication , 2008, 58(2): 201219.
26 Feldman, L., “The opinion factor: The Effects of opinionated news on information processing and attitude change,” Political Communication , 2011, 28(2): 163181.
27 Feldman, L., “Partisan differences in opinionated news perceptions: A test of the hostile media effect,” Political Behavior , 2011, 33(3): 407432.
28 Hallin, D. C. and Mancini, P., Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
29 Mitchell, A. and Page, D., State of the News Media 2015 (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, 2015).
30 Vallone, R. P., Ross, L., and Lepper, M. R., “The hostile media phenomenon: Biased perception and perceptions of media bias in coverage of the Beirut massacre,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 1985, 49(3): 577585.
31 Gunther, A. C. and Christen, C. T., “Projection or persuasive press? Contrary effects of personal opinion and perceived news coverage on estimates of public opinion,” Journal of Communication , 2002, 52(1): 177195.
32 Strate, J., Kiska, T., and Zalman, and M., “Who favors legalizing physician-assisted suicide? The vote on Michigan’s Proposal B,” Politics and the Life Sciences , 2001, 20(2): 155163.
33 Svenson, A. G., “Montana’s courting of physician aid in dying, Could Des Moines follow suit?,” Politics and the Life Sciences , 2010, 29(2): 5572.
34 Cappella, J. N., Kim, H. S., and Albarracín, D., “Selection and transmission processes for information in the emerging media environment: Psychological motives and message characteristics,” Media Psychology , 2014, 18(3): 396424.
35 Gunther, A. C., Christen, C. T., Liebhart, J. L., and Chia, S. C.-Y., “Congenial public, contrary press, and biased estimates of the climate of opinion,” Public Opinion Quarterly , 2001, 65(3): 295320.
36 Fico, F., Richardson, J. D., and Edwards, S. M., “Influence of story structure on perceived story bias and news organization credibility,” Mass Communication & Society , 2004, 7(3): 301318.
37 Gunther, A. C. and Christen, C. T., “Effects of news slant and base rate information on perceived public opinion,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly , 1999, 76(2): 277292.
38 Abril, E. P. and Rojas, H., “Silencing political opinions: An assessment of the influence of geopolitical contexts in Colombia,” Communication Research , 45(1): 5582.
39 Johnson, T. J. and Kaye, B. K., “The dark side of the boon? Credibility, selective exposure and the proliferation of online sources of political information,” Computers in Human Behavior , 2013, 29(4): 18621871.
40 Conover, M. D., Ratkiewicz, J., Francisco, M., Gonc, B., Flammini, A., and Menczer, F., “Political polarization on Twitter,” in Proceedings of the 25th Conference of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press, 2011).
41 Jacobson, G. C., A Divider, Not a Uniter: George W. Bush and the American People (New York: Pearson Longman, 2007).
42 Jamieson, K. H., Hardy, B. W., and Romer, D., “The effectiveness of the press in serving the needs of American democracy,” in A Republic Divided (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 2151.
43 Rojas, H., Barnidge, M., and Abril, E. P., “Egocentric publics and corrective action,” Communication and the Public , 2016, 1(1): 2738.
44 Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Smith, A., and Zickuhr, K., Social Media and Young Adults (Washington, DC: Pew Internet Research, 2010), http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/02/03/social-media-and-young-adults/, accessed January 31, 2018.
45 Tamborini, R., Weber, R., Eden, A., Bowman, N. D., and Grizzard, M., “Repeated exposure to daytime soap opera and shifts in moral judgment toward social convention,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media , 2010, 54(4): 621640.
46 Morisi, D., Shaping voting intentions: An experimental study on the role of information in the Scottish independence referendum, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Research Paper No. RSCAS 2014/88, September 2014.
47 La Raja, R. J. and Wiltse, D. L., “Don’t blame donors for ideological polarization of political parties,” American Politics Research , 2012, 40(3): 501530.
48 Layman, G., Carsey, T., Green, J., and Herrera, R., Party polarization and ‘conflict extension’ in American politics: The case of party activists, paper presented at the American Politics Workshop (Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 2005), http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.536.2163&rep=rep1&type=pdf, accessed January 31, 2018.
49 Ziegler, S. J. and Jackson, R. A., “Who’s not afraid of Proposal B? An analysis of exit-poll data from Michigan’s vote on physician-assisted suicide,” Politics and the Life Sciences , 2005, 23(1): 4248.
50 Byock, I. R., Corbeil, Y. J., and Goodrich, M. E., “Beyond polarization, public preferences suggest policy opportunities to address aging, dying, and family caregiving,” American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Medicine , 2009, 26(3): 200208.
51 Holody, K. J., Framing Death: The Use of Frames in Newspaper Coverage of and Press Releases about Death with Dignity. M.Sc. thesis (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2006).
52 Pollock, J. A. and Yulis, S. G., “Nationwide newspaper coverage of physician-assisted suicide: A community structure approach,” Journal of Health Communication , 2004, 9(4): 281307.
53 Weir, R., Abating treatment with critically ill patients: ethical and legal limits to the medical prolongation of life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
54 Christen, C. T. and Gunther, A. C., “The influence of mass media and other culprits on the projection of personal opinion,” Communication Research , 2003, 30(4): 414431.
55 Wojcieszak, M., “Deliberation and attitude polarization,” Journal of Communication , 2011, 61(4): 596617.
56 DeBonis, K., Blair, T. R., Payne, S. T., Wigan, K., and Kim, S., “Viability of a web-based module for teaching electrocardiogram reading skills to psychiatry residents: Learning outcomes and trainee interest,” Academic Psychiatry , 2015, 39(6): 645648.
57 Gunther, A. C. and Chia, S. C.-Y., “Predicting pluralistic ignorance: The hostile media perception and its consequences,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly , 2001, 78(4): 688701.
58 Schmitt, K. M., Gunther, A. C., and Liebhart, J. L., “Why partisans see mass media as biased,” Communication Research , 2004, 31(6): 623641.
59 Gunther, A. C. and Storey, J. D., “The influence of presumed influence,” Journal of Communication , 2003, 53(2): 199215.
60 Hayes, A. F., 2016, http://www.afhayes.com, accessed January 31, 2018.
61 Keppel, G. and Wickens, T. D., Design and Analysis: A Researcher’s Handbook (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2004).
62 Garrett, R. K., Weeks, B. E., and Neo, R. L., “Driving a wedge between evidence and beliefs: How online ideological news exposure promotes political misperceptions,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication , 2016, 21(5): 331348.
63 Wojcieszak, M. and Rojas, H., “Correlates of party, ideology and issue based extremity in an era of egocentric publics,” International Journal of Press/Politics , 2011, 16(4): 488507.
64 Mutz, D. C., Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
65 Abril, E. P., “Unmasking trolls: Political discussion on Twitter during the parliamentary elections in Catalonia,” Trípodos , 2016, 39: 5369, http://www.eulaliapuigabril.net/uploads/7/3/9/5/73956117/abril2016_trolls.pdf, accessed January 27, 2018.
66 Hayes, A. F., Glynn, C. J., and Shanahan, J., “Willingness to self-censor: A construct and measurement tool for public opinion research,” International Journal of Public Opinion Research , 2005, 17(3): 298323.
Recommend this journal

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

Politics and the Life Sciences
  • ISSN: 0730-9384
  • EISSN: 1471-5457
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-the-life-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Abril supplementary material
Appendix

 Unknown (41 KB)
41 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed