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Do Disagreeable Political Discussion Networks Undermine Attitude Strength?

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How attitudes change and affect behavior depends, in large part, on their strength. Strong attitudes are more resistant to persuasion and are more likely to produce attitude‐consistent behavior. But what influences attitude strength? In this article, we explore a widely discussed, but rarely investigated, factor: an individual's political discussion network. What prior work exists offers a somewhat mixed picture, finding sometimes that disagreeable networks weaken attitudes and other times that they strengthen attitudes. We use a novel national representative dataset to explore the relationship between disagreeable networks and attitude strength. We find, perhaps surprisingly, no evidence that disagreements in networks affect political attitude strength. We conclude by discussing likely reasons for our findings, which, in turn, provide a research agenda for the study of networks and attitude strength.
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Keywords: attitude formation; attitude strength; networks; political discussion

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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