Liberals and Conservatives are Similarly Motivated to Avoid Exposure to One Another's Opinions

Frimer, J. , Skitka, L. J., & Motyl, M. (2017). Liberals and conservatives are similarly motivated to avoid exposure to one another’s opinions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 72, 1-12.

44 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2017

See all articles by Jeremy Frimer

Jeremy Frimer

University of Winnipeg

Linda J. Skitka

University of Illinois at Chicago

Matt Motyl

University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Illinois at Chicago

Date Written: April 16, 2017

Abstract

Ideologically committed people are similarly motivated to avoid ideologically crosscutting information. Although some previous research has found that political conservatives may be more prone to selective exposure than liberals are, we find similar selective exposure motives on the political left and right across a variety of issues. The majority of people on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate willingly gave up a chance to win money to avoid hearing from the other side (Study 1). When thinking back to the 2012 U.S. Presidential election (Study 2), ahead to upcoming elections in the U.S. and Canada (Study 3), and about a range of other Culture War issues (Study 4), liberals and conservatives reported similar aversion toward learning about the views of their ideological opponents. Their lack of interest was not due to already being informed about the other side or attributable election fatigue. Rather, people on both sides indicated that they anticipated that hearing from the other side would induce cognitive dissonance (e.g., require effort, cause frustration) and undermine a sense of shared reality with the person expressing disparate views (e.g., damage the relationship; Study 5). A high-powered meta-analysis of our data sets (N = 2417) did not detect a difference in the intensity of liberals’ (d = 0.63) and conservatives’ (d = 0.58) desires to remain in their respective ideological bubbles.

Keywords: selective exposure, confirmation bias, political psychology, ideology, ideological differences, ideological symmetry, culture war

Suggested Citation

Frimer, Jeremy and Skitka, Linda J. and Motyl, Matt, Liberals and Conservatives are Similarly Motivated to Avoid Exposure to One Another's Opinions (April 16, 2017). Frimer, J. , Skitka, L. J., & Motyl, M. (2017). Liberals and conservatives are similarly motivated to avoid exposure to one another’s opinions. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 72, 1-12.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2953780

Jeremy Frimer

University of Winnipeg ( email )

Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2E9
United States

Linda J. Skitka

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1200 W Harrison St
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

Matt Motyl (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1007 W. Harrison St. (m/c 285)
Psychology Department
Chicago, IL 60607
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

University of Illinois at Chicago ( email )

1102 Behavioral Science Building (BSB)
Chicago, IL 60607-7137
United States

HOME PAGE: http://motyl.people.uic.edu

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