Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version



A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts. Major: Educational Psychology, Under the supervision of Professor Roger H. Bruning. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2012.

Copyright (c) 2012 Matthew Mehrhoff


This paper looks at the influence of ideological schemas on comprehension of news articles. Schema theory pervades psychological explanations for conceptualizing and comprehending the world. While schemas, or mental organizational structures, are essential for comprehending information, they can also be misapplied, leading to a variety of errors in understanding, with particular application in comprehension of political concepts and the news. This paper looks to at how level of congruence between the political ideology of the individual and the tone of a news article affect comprehension levels. Undergraduate students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln took a reading comprehension task for two news articles from ideologically disparate sources. Results were compared with individual political tendencies based on established ideological measures. Findings showed a small negative correlation between ideology and comprehension, suggesting that strong ideological rhetoric in a news article can interfere with understanding of core information. Implications for the classroom show the need for early instruction in the impact of the perspectives of the author and reader on understanding in order to mitigate negative effects.