Polarization and Partisan Selective Exposure

Stroud, Natalie Jomini
Journal of Communication

Today, people can easily select media outlets sharing their political predispositions, a behavior known as partisan selective exposure. Additional research is needed, however, to better understand the causes and consequences of partisan selective exposure. This study investigates the relationship between partisan selective exposure and political polarization using data from the National Annenberg Election Survey. Cross-sectional results show strong evidence that partisan selective exposure is related to polarization. Over-time analyses document that partisan selective exposure leads to polarization. Some evidence supports the reverse causal direction, namely that polarization leads to partisan selective exposure. Implications for the study of media effects and normative implications—both positive and negative—are discussed.