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Political Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 651–673 | Cite as

Social Influences on Online Political Information Search and Evaluation

  • Douglas R. Pierce
  • David P. Redlawsk
  • William W. Cohen
Original Paper

Abstract

Americans are turning to the Internet to learn about politics in greater and greater numbers. Under the current “Web 2.0” paradigm in which users are encouraged to interact with online content, voters encountering political information on the Internet are typically exposed to more than just the news; online information is often colored by the reactions of previous readers, whether in the form of displayed comments or in readily apparent tallies of the number of “likes” or “shares” a particular item has received. In this paper we consider the effect these social cues have on online political information search and evaluation. Using processing-tracing software to monitor the patterns of information search and evaluation among our subjects, we find that social cues can function as a heuristic, allowing voters to reach judgments similar to those of their more informed counterparts. However, we also find that negative cues can adversely influence candidate evaluation, making subjects less disposed to a candidate than they would be in the absence of such signals.

Keywords

Heuristics Information-processing Voting Social media 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas R. Pierce
    • 1
  • David P. Redlawsk
    • 2
  • William W. Cohen
    • 3
  1. 1.Nebraska Wesleyan UniversityLincolnUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  3. 3.School of Computer ScienceCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

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