March 23, 2018, 11:30–12:30
Room MF 323
There is mounting concern that social media sites contribute to political polarization by creating echo chambers that insulate people from opposing views about current events. We surveyed a large sample of Democrats and Republicans who visit Twitter at least three times each week about a range of social policy issues. One week later, we randomly assigned respondents to a treatment condition in which they were offered financial incentives to follow a Twitter bot for one month that exposed them to messages produced by elected officials, organizations, and other opinion leaders with opposing political ideologies. Respondents were re-surveyed at the end of the month to measure the effect of this treatment, and at regular intervals throughout the study period to monitor treatment compliance. Though Democrats who followed a conservative Twitter bot exhibited no significant changes in opinion compared to those in the control condition, Republicans exhibited substantially more conservative attitudes post-treatment. These effects are largest among Republicans who have strong attachment to their party.
Christopher Bail is the Douglas and Ellen Lowey Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke.
Christopher Bail (Duke University), “Exposure to Opposing Views can Increase Political Polarization: Evidence from a Large-Scale Experiment on Social Media”, IAST General Seminar, Toulouse: IAST, March 23, 2018, 11:30–12:30, room MF 323.