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Abstract

For over 60 years, researchers have explored the validity of the selective exposure hypothesis, which states that people will seek out consonant, and avoid dissonant, information. In early cognitive dissonance-based research, selective exposure received mixed support. More recently, researchers have begun to delineate the factors that regulate the occurrence of selective exposure in a multitude of contexts. In this review, we discuss a number of such moderators as well as the ebb and flow of research over the years. We propose that many of these factors can be conceptualized as influencing capacity and/or motivations to process information, and we discuss how this framework can help categorize past, and suggest future, moderators. Finally, we highlight that other research domains should be considered when exploring selective exposure effects, and that researchers should consider how findings from the selective exposure literature can fruitfully be applied to other domains.