Echo chambers online?: Politically motivated selective exposure among Internet news users1

Authors


  • 1

    The author is grateful to Paul Resnick, Bruce Bimber, Paul Edwards, Russ Neuman, and Andrew Hayes for their valuable feedback on this work.

Abstract

A review of research suggests that the desire for opinion reinforcement may play a more important role in shaping individuals’ exposure to online political information than an aversion to opinion challenge. The article tests this idea using data collected via a web-administered behavior-tracking study with subjects recruited from the readership of 2 partisan online news sites (N = 727). The results demonstrate that opinion-reinforcing information promotes news story exposure while opinion-challenging information makes exposure only marginally less likely. The influence of both factors is modest, but opinion-reinforcing information is a more important predictor. Having decided to view a news story, evidence of an aversion to opinion challenges disappears: There is no evidence that individuals abandon news stories that contain information with which they disagree. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

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