Jay Hmielowski and Myiah Hutchens Co-Author Blog Post on the Effects of Watching Liberal and Conservative Media
University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Public Relations Assistant Professors Jay Hmielowski and Myiah Hutchens are the co-authors of a blog “Conservatives Are More Likely Than Liberals to Exist in a Media Echo Chamber” posted on the London School of Economics US Centre’s blog on American Politics and Policy on Dec. 22.
Research from Hmielowski, Hutchens and Michael Beam found that watching both liberal and conservative media equally contribute to holding partisan beliefs. However, in comparison to liberal beliefs, people holding conservative partisan beliefs were more likely to tune into conservative media and then subsequently held even stronger conservative beliefs.
The authors looked at the relationships between media use and beliefs in three different ways. “First, to what extent did media use foster later political beliefs; second, to what extent did political beliefs foster later media use; and third, what was the overtime, reinforcing, nature of the relationship between media and belief?”
They found that both liberal and conservative media could be causing changes to the public’s attitudes and both are likely contributing to polarization of the U.S.
They add, “Our results did find a reinforcing relationship between conservative beliefs and media use. Conservatives are more likely to be living in a communication echo chamber where beliefs and media use reinforce themselves over time. Evidence that suggests conservatives are higher in personality traits such as closemindedness may also help explain this reinforcing relationship. While we demonstrate that we have reasons to be concerned about potentially polarizing effects of both liberal and conservative media, the larger concern is that conservative seem to be living in more of a communication bubble than their liberal counterparts.”