Date of this Version
Elbel, M. 2021. Information Search and Political Ideology: Examining How an Individual’s Political Ideology Relates to the Category and Depth of the Political Information they Pursue. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The expansion of news media in television and online allows the public to tailor their consumption of political news to their specific interests. Understanding how the public engages in political information search with respect to their political identities can provide insight into the type and amount of information an individual pursues before making a political decision. The present study examines how people of various political ideologies gather information related to political issues. Participants completed surveys gauging their attitudes toward a number of political policy issues following a task in which they were allowed to select political issue topics and control the amount of information they read about each. Of primary interest was how an individual’s political ideology influenced which policy issues they selected, and the amount of information participants read before making a decision. The results suggest that as an individual’s ideological extremity increases, they become more likely to select ingroup issues, or issues that are typically supported by their political ideology. Additionally, individuals who identify as liberal reviewed more information than their conservative counterparts before making a decision regarding political issues. Finally, preliminary evidence suggests that individuals who identify as moderate sampled an array of political policy issues which was more diverse than liberals, but not more diverse than conservatives.