Mayer was supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
Expertise and Bias in Political Communication Networks
Article first published online: 25 FEB 2013
© 2012, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 57, Issue 2, pages 357–373, April 2013
How to Cite
Ahn, T. K., Huckfeldt, R., Mayer, A. K. and Ryan, J. B. (2013), Expertise and Bias in Political Communication Networks. American Journal of Political Science, 57: 357–373. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2012.00625.x
- Issue published online: 5 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 25 FEB 2013
Citizens minimize information costs by obtaining political guidance from others who have already assumed the costs of acquiring and processing political information. A problem occurs because ideal informants, typically characterized by the joint presence of political expertise and shared viewpoints, are frequently unavailable or rare within the groups where individuals are located. Hence, individuals must often look beyond their own group boundaries to find such informants. The problem is that obtaining information from individuals located beyond their own groups produces additional costs. Moreover, the availability of ideal informants varies across groups and settings, with the potential to produce (1) context-dependent patterns of informant centrality, which in turn generate (2) varying levels of polarization among groups and (3) biases in favor of some groups at the expense of others. The article's analysis is based on a series of small-group experiments, with aggregate implications addressed using a simple agent-based model.