Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Discussion Network Activation: An Expanded Approach to Selective Exposure

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Abstract:  Studies of selective exposure have focused on use of traditional media sources. However, discussion networks are an integral part of individuals’ information diets. This article extends the selective exposure literature by exploring the potential for networks to likewise be selectively accessed. A pre-registered experiment found that participants nominate denser, more ideologically coherent networks in response to congenial political news relative to uncongenial news, and express willingness to share it with more people. Analysis of open-ended data suggest shared political beliefs are more likely to motivate discussant selection in response to congenial, rather than uncongenial, news. Properties of networks generated in response to political and non-political news did not vary. These results provide nuance to our understanding of political information exposure.

Keywords:  discussion networks; information seeking; polarization; selective exposure; social identity


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© Benjamin A. Lyons. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.