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Partisan Media, Affective Polarization, and Cross-Cutting Talk: Studying the Antecedents of Discussion Diversity and Disagreement

Fri, May 26, 15:30 to 16:45, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo 206


Numerous studies have shown that cross-cutting political talk—conversations with people with diverse or disagreeing viewpoints—has several normatively desirable outcomes. Less attention has been paid to the issue of what triggers cross-cutting talk in the first place. Here, we argue that partisan media use, characterized by politically slanted or one-sided content, could be a determinant of this type of political discussion. More specifically, we hypothesize that exposure to partisan news, relative to balanced news, polarizes audiences’ affective evaluations of policy issues and public figures, which in turn reduces their interest in engaging in cross-cutting discussions. These relationships were tested in two studies fielded in the U.S. Study 1 is an original survey experiment on the issue of health care reform, Study 2 is a secondary analysis of a representative post-election survey. The results from both studies provide support for our hypotheses. We conclude discussing theoretical implications and future work.