Why Do People (Sometimes) Become Selective About News? The Role of Emotions and Partisan Differences in Selective Approach and Avoidance

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Recent advances in partisan selective exposure research have provided compelling evidence for the distinction between selective approach and selective avoidance. Yet the questions of whether, how, and to what extent discrete emotions systematically shape either of these patterns has not been sufficiently addressed. This study explores the differential roles of fear, anger, and enthusiasm in selective approach to and selective avoidance of partisan news programs, focusing on partisan differences in regard to a person’s general approach versus avoidance tendencies to external stimuli as a possible moderating mechanism. A secondary analysis of the 2012 American National Election Studies data suggested that fear and anger both significantly increased proattitudinal news exposure, whereas only anger decreased counterattitudinal news exposure. In addition, Republicans exhibit these patterns to a greater extent than Democrats. Furthermore, enthusiasm significantly predicted exposure to proattitudinal news for both Republicans and Democrats, whereas Democrats were significantly more likely than Republicans to increase their counterattitudinal news exposure as a function of enthusiasm. Theoretical and methodological implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalMass Communication and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was partly supported by the Graduate Center of the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Vienna. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Vienna.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © Mass Communication & Society Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication


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