Political Discussion Frequency, Network Size, and “Heterogeneity” of Discussion as Predictors of Political Knowledge and Participation


William P. Eveland; e-mail: eveland.6@osu.edu


In this study, we examine the influence of discussion frequency, network size, and 3 variables that together entangle the often misunderstood concept of network heterogeneity: discussion frequency with like-minded individuals (“safe” discussion), discussion frequency with nonlike-minded individuals (“dangerous” discussion), and diversity of discussion based on the proportion of safe and dangerous discussion. Data were gathered via a postelection random-digit dial telephone survey of residents of a battleground state (N = 600) in November 2004. Three central dependent variables were measured: factual political knowledge, political knowledge structure density, and political participation. The results support the argument that different aspects of political discussion have different implications for different democratic outcomes-and that different conceptualizations and measures of discussion “heterogeneity” produce different results.