Prior research has found only modest associations between news media trust and exposure. Many news skeptics report moderate to high levels of mainstream news exposure, despite their mistrust of mainstream news. Why do people watch news they do not trust? This study investigates the moderating role played by the psychological construct of "the need for cognition" (NFC) in this association. An NFC × Media Skepticism interaction is hypothesized and tested on survey data (N = 424). Results provide evidence for such an interaction. For those with a reduced NFC, mainstream media skepticism is strongly associated with news exposure. As NFC increases, the association between news skepticism and exposure disappears. It is concluded that people consume news they do not trust when their media skepticism is irrelevant to their motivation for news exposure. Copyriglt
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This article is based on parts of Yariv Tsfati’s doctoral dissertation research, conducted under the supervision of Joseph N. Cappella at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania. We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers and to the dissertation committee members—Elihu Katz and Vincent Price—for their ideas and suggestions. A prior version of this article was presented at the 2003 annual American Association for Public Opinion Research conference. The Electronic Dialogue project was funded by a grant to Vincent Price and Joseph N. Cappella by Pew Charitable Trusts. The views expressed are ours alone.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Applied Psychology