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



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.