, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 341-366

Media Use and Political Predispositions: Revisiting the Concept of Selective Exposure

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Abstract

Today, people have ample opportunity to engage in selective exposure, the selection of information matching their beliefs. Whether this is occurring, however, is a matter of debate. While some worry that people increasingly are seeking out likeminded views, others propose that newer media provide an increased opportunity for exposure to diverse views. In returning to the concept of selective exposure, this article argues that certain topics, such as politics, are more likely to inspire selective exposure and that research should investigate habitual media exposure patterns, as opposed to single exposure decisions. This study investigates whether different media types (newspapers, political talk radio, cable news, and Internet) are more likely to inspire selective exposure. Using data from the 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey, evidence supports the idea that people’s political beliefs are related to their media exposure—a pattern that persists across media types. Over-time analyses suggest that people’s political beliefs motivate their media use patterns and that cable news audiences became increasingly politically divided over the course of the 2004 election.