While an empirical association between exposure to ideologically congruent media sources and polarization has been substantiated in various studies, recent criticisms suggest that perhaps it is biased reports of ideological exposure that may account for the association. In addition, our understanding of the mechanism underlying the relationship between selective exposure (SE) and polarization is still limited. The present investigation addresses the first problem by using an unobtrusive indicator of SE and the second problem by exploring two possible mediators: the use of arguments from ideological media in political conversations and perceptions about the climate of public opinion. Respondents were recruited using advertisements published in mainstream, right-wing, and left-wing news outlets in Israel, and completed a survey tapping the constructs under investigation. Three different indicators of SE - the online news outlet from which the respondents were recruited (ideological/mainstream), self-reported frequency of exposure to predefined congruent ideological media, and the tendency to prefer congruent political materials - were significantly related to polarization. Results also demonstrated that the effect of SE on polarization is mediated through opinion climate perceptions, but the use of arguments from media in conversations did not mediate between SE and polarization.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by the Israel Science Foundation [Grant #477/11].
© 2015 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The World Association for Public Opinion Research. All rights reserved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science