Abstract: This paper posits that the concept of European identity is an important indicator of the legitimacy of the European Union (EU). It further assumes that the exposure to EU related media content can influence the feeling of European identity. In order to verify this assumption, we combined the mere-exposure-theory and the hostile media phenomenon. We assume that these theoretical concepts could help to understand the influence of media on people’s levels of attachment to the EU. Regression analyses are performed on secondary data that were collected in a Eurobarometer survey in 2013. Our findings revealed that media exposure affected the respondents’ identification with Europe, as well as the modifications of this effect based on their assessments of EU media coverage. The results of the current study not only validate assumptions about the mere-exposure effects on identity but also confirm the theoretical assumption that perceived hostility reduces such effects, whereas exposure to information that is perceived as neutral promotes the effects of media exposure on the feeling of European identity.
Keywords: collective identity; European identity; hostile media; mere-exposure effect