- Two sides to every story
- Causes and consequences of selective exposure to balanced political information
- Award date
- 19 September 2017
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Although the current information environment offers citizens an unprecedented opportunity to engage in selective exposure behavior, namely to seek mostly pro-attitudinal information about politics and public affairs, the debate about the prevalence and consequences of selective exposure in a high-choice media environment is largely inconclusive. Moreover, the majority of the scholarship has focused on studying the selection and effects of one-sided political content (i.e., pro- or counter-attitudinal), and has paid little attention to balanced content, even though it is available in the media environment and consumed by citizens. Using a series of online experiments, this dissertation uncovers the psychological underpinnings of balanced exposure and its attitudinal outcomes about contested and highly relevant socio-political issues, such as climate change, health care reform and refugees. Results of the dissertation show that: First, selective exposure is not a prevalent phenomenon among citizens. Second, exposure to balanced media content is the preferred choice for different groups of citizens. Third, citizens who personally care about a political issue prefer balanced messages which use numbers and statistics to argue two sides of a story. Fourth, balanced content plays a crucial role in shaping how people process political information. We learn that whether individuals are motivated to reinforce their opinions or to reach accurate conclusions, they interpret balanced content in a similar unbiased manner. Finally, the availability, selection and unbiased processing of balanced political information is not enough to promote moderate political views on contested socio-political issues.
Thesis (complete) (Embargo up to and including 19 September 2019)
Chapter 2: Selective Exposure to Balanced Content and Evidence Type: The Case of Issue and Non-Issue Publics about Climate Change and Health Care (Embargo up to and including 19 September 2019)
Chapter 3: Desired vs. Correct Conclusions: The Motivated Selection of Balanced Content (Embargo up to and including 19 September 2019)
Chapter 4: I Stick to My Guns: Motivated Reasoning and Biased Processing of Balanced Political Information (Embargo up to and including 19 September 2019)
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