Selective Exposure and Partisan Echo Chambers In Television News Consumption: Evidence from Linked Viewership, Administrative, and Survey Data

Monday, April 10, 2023 (3:30 PM – 5:00 PM)

Joshua Kalla

Assistant Professor of Political Science
Yale University

Many scholars doubt that televised partisan media’s audience is large enough, persuadable enough, or sufficiently isolated from cross-cutting sources for partisan media to meaningfully influence public opinion. However, limitations of survey measures of media consumption have left such doubts difficult to assess. We report findings from four novel data sources which each link behavioral measures of television consumption to political administrative and survey data. First, approximately 1 in 7 Americans consume over 8 hours/month of partisan television, outnumbering the US Black population. Second, consistent with selective exposure, about two-thirds of partisan media viewers are aligned partisans; however, partisan media viewers have fairly similar attitudes to partisans generally, suggesting partisan media’s audience is not likely to be less persuadable than partisans generally. Finally, few partisan media consumers consume cross-cutting television channels, consistent with partisan echo chambers. Concerns about partisan media’s potential to further polarize Americans cannot be easily dismissed.

Joshua Kalla is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University with a secondary appointment in Statistics and Data Science. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018. His research studies political persuasion, prejudice reduction, and decision-making among voters and political elites, primarily through the use of randomized field experiments.

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