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Student Research Projects

The Effects of Partisan Media on Attitudes towards Gays

Student Adam Amick, ‘13
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Leslie Caughell
Department Political Science
Course POLS 499: Media and Politics

Abstract

Decades of research on media effects indicate that which issues the media covers and how it covers them can affect political attitudes. Many studies suggest that exposure to similar opinions influence the strength of a person's opinion (Mutz, 2004). These studies also conclude that the rise of 24-hour partisan cable news has led to greater attitude extremity. Political scientists have little sense about how partisan news consumption affects citizens' attitudes on contemporary social issues, such as gay rights. This research examines whether consuming partisan news media alters viewers’ attitudes toward gays. Using respondents from the 2004 National Annenburg Election Survey, this research suggests that watching MSNBC is associated with greater support for gay rights groups. Yet attitude extremity does not increase with higher levels of news consumption. Viewing FOX News is associated with decreased support for gay rights groups. The more often that a FOX viewer watches its news, the more his/her support for gay rights groups decreases. These results suggest that there is a correlation between higher levels of partisan news consumption and attitude extremity, at least among FOX News viewers.

 

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