Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-2019


Forte, J. 2019. That's why I deleted you, Aunt Kathy": Political tolerance, online selective exposure, and relational closeness. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Justice Forte 2019.


In the present day, people have copious options for news consumption, and therefore, are presented with increased opportunity to engage in selective exposure, or the selection of media that confirm their beliefs (Stroud, 2008). Past research in the areas of political tolerance (Sullivan et al., 1979), ideology (Brandt et al., 2014), and political conversations in the context of our relationships (Mutz, 2006) highlights the negative impact of tuning out the other side. In exploring these topics, these scholars set out to determine when individuals are willing to extend tolerance toward groups or views with which they disagree and when they are not. The present research seeks to understand when individuals open themselves to opposing viewpoints and when they instead engage in selective exposure behaviors. In doing so, a survey was crafted that asked participants to respond to questions about their online social media usage and selective exposure behaviors (i.e., unfollowing, muting, reporting) on the applications of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. We found that individuals are more likely to enact selective exposure when they exhibit lower levels of political tolerance or higher levels of ideological extremity. However, relational closeness, or a closer relational tie, can reduce the likelihood for an individual to enact a selective exposure behavior.