Media Echo Chambers: Selective Exposure and Confirmation Bias in Media Use, and its Consequences for Political Polarization
The new digital media landscape has created a high-choice media environment that has made it easier for people to find news and information that support their political beliefs and attitudes, and avoid news and information that challenge those beliefs or attitudes. How does this affect people’s selection of content and political polarization in the long run? This thesis investigates the relationship between different political preferences (political party, political interest and ideological leaning) and selective media use over time among the Swedish population, and whether this selectivity leads to political polarization (ideological polarization and affective polarization). The thesis uses longitudinal surveys with a cross-section and panel design, and also a survey experiment. The results suggest that selectivity has not increased to the point that people in general only select information that supports their beliefs or attitudes, nor that people in general necessarily avoid information that challenge those beliefs or attitudes. Political interest is also one key motivator for people to select news and information that challenge them politically. The metaphor of a media echo chamber, where the only voices people hear are more of the same, is therefore far from reality.
Parts of work
Dahlgren, P. M. (2019). Selective Exposure to Public Service News Over Thirty Years: The Role of Ideological Leaning, Party Support, and Political Interest. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 24(3), 293–314. ::doi::10.1177/1940161219836223Dahlgren, P. M., Shehata, A., & Strömbäck, J. (2019). Reinforcing spirals at work? Mutual influences between selective news exposure and ideological leaning. European Journal of Communication, 34(2), 159–174. ::doi:: 10.1177/0267323119830056Dahlgren, P. M. (preprint). Forced vs. Selective Exposure: Threatening Messages Lead to Anger but Not Dislike of Political Opponents.
Doctor of Philosophy
Göteborgs universitet. Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten
University of Gothenburg. Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG) ; Institutionen för journalistik, medier och kommunikation (JMG)
Fredagen den 22 januari 2021 kl. 9.00, Linnésalen, Mediehuset, Campus Linné, Institutionen för journalistik, medier och kommunikation, JMG, Seminariegatan 1B, Göteborg (även strömmat via Zoom)
Date of defence
Dahlgren, Peter M.