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Reinforcement of the Political Self Through Selective Exposure to Political Messages

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The idea that recipients prefer messages that reinforce preexisting attitudes and self-perceptions has pervaded much communication research, but effects of selective exposure are rarely examined. This 2-session experiment (n = 157) investigates such effects. The first session presented computerized questions on 12 political issue attitudes and political self-concept. Accessibility data were collected based on response times. In the second session, participants browsed through an online magazine including 4 of the 12 issues, each issue being covered by 2 articles featuring opposing viewpoints. Selective exposure was logged and categorized as attitude-consistent or counterattitudinal. Finally, a questionnaire repeated measures for attitudes and self-concept. The results show that participants preferred attitude-consistent over counterattitudinal messages, which strengthened the political self-concept through increased accessibility.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Communication, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA 2: Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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