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31.10.2016 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 3/2017

Political Behavior 3/2017

Social Influences on Online Political Information Search and Evaluation

Zeitschrift:
Political Behavior > Ausgabe 3/2017
Autoren:
Douglas R. Pierce, David P. Redlawsk, William W. Cohen
Wichtige Hinweise
Financial support for this project comes from NSF Grant SoCS-IIS-096841 awarded to the second and third author. The development of the DPTE software system (www.​processtracing.​org) was supported in part by National Science Foundation grant SES-0647738 to the second author. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at a number of conferences, including the 2015 WPSA meeting and the 2015 MPSA conference. We thank participants at those seminars and a number of anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions and improvements. Replication data for this study is available at https://​dataverse.​harvard.​edu/​dataverse/​polbehavior.

Abstract

Americans are turning to the Internet to learn about politics in greater and greater numbers. Under the current “Web 2.0” paradigm in which users are encouraged to interact with online content, voters encountering political information on the Internet are typically exposed to more than just the news; online information is often colored by the reactions of previous readers, whether in the form of displayed comments or in readily apparent tallies of the number of “likes” or “shares” a particular item has received. In this paper we consider the effect these social cues have on online political information search and evaluation. Using processing-tracing software to monitor the patterns of information search and evaluation among our subjects, we find that social cues can function as a heuristic, allowing voters to reach judgments similar to those of their more informed counterparts. However, we also find that negative cues can adversely influence candidate evaluation, making subjects less disposed to a candidate than they would be in the absence of such signals.

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