Does Exposure to Online News Media Depend on Individuals’ Political Attitudes and Trust in These Media? A Comparison Between Declarative and Behavioral Data

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Abstract

This study analyzes “selective exposure” to online news media (i.e., preferential exposure to congenial and trusted media) by comparing the behavioral and declarative data of 1,536 participants over a one-month period. We recorded their Internet activity over a one-month period and then asked them about their level of trust in several news media outlets, the frequency with which they had been exposed to them, and their political position and orientation along a progressive-conservative axis. Results show that 1) participants’ trust in the different news media varies according to their political attitudes, 2) participants’ probability of declaring exposure to a specific news media is impacted by their trust in this media, as well as by their political attitudes, 3) these effects are much weaker when considering participants’ effective exposure to news media. Overall, these results indicate that selective exposure to online news media exists, but it is exaggerated when studied only by means of declarative data.

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Brest, A., & Cordonier, L. (2023). Does Exposure to Online News Media Depend on Individuals’ Political Attitudes and Trust in These Media? A Comparison Between Declarative and Behavioral Data. Mass Communication and Society. https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2023.2186246

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