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The “Deliberative Digital Divide:” Opinion Leadership and Integrative Complexity in the U.S. Political Blogosphere

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Abstract

This study examined the association between political ideology and linguistic indicators of integrative complexity and opinion leadership in U.S. political blog posts (N= 519). Using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) text analysis, we found that the posts of conservative bloggers were more integratively simple than those of liberal bloggers. Furthermore, in support of a proposed opinion leadership model of integrative complexity, the relationship between ideology and integrative complexity was mediated by psychological distancing (an indicator of a hierarchical communication style). These findings demonstrate an ideological divide in the extent to which the blogosphere reflects deliberative democratic ideals.

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