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May 26 17

Traits as Moderators of Selective Exposure

by Benjamin

In my two newest articles, in the latest issue of Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media (with Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick) and in press at Communication Monographs (with Knobloch-Westerwick and Axel Westerwick), the relationship between selective exposure and traits is at the forefront.

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At JOBEM, we test how informational utility leads to more selective exposure. News articles that convey greater issue magnitude, likelihood, immediacy, and efficacy tend to be consumed more. We find that individual differences in coping moderate the effect of these message characteristics on exposure. Avoidant individuals selected messages with high and low utility at similar rates; non-avoidants were disposed toward high utility messages. Additionally, problem-focused people were more likely to select low-efficacy messages, whereas people low on the problem-focus coping trait were more likely to select high efficacy messages.

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Over at Comm Monographs, we look at partisan selective exposure and test how motivation (i.e., need for cognition) and ability (i.e., cognitive reflection) moderate effects. The study also investigates partisan bias in the content (pro- vs. counter-attitudinal messages) versus bias in the source (slanted vs. neutral sources), as well as immediate versus delayed effects on polarization. There’s a lot to unpack in the findings, and it’s an important step for understanding moderating factors, types of partisan bias, and the duration of polarizing effects.

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These articles contribute to a nascent but valuable research trend to account for the dispositional factors that shape selective exposure to different types of media messages. And, an important further step is to consider dispositions and situations in conjunction.

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Johnson, B. K., & Knobloch-Westerwick, S. (2017). Steer clear or get ready: How coping styles moderate the effect of informational utility. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 61(2), 332-350. doi: 10.1080/08838151.2017.1309408

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Westerwick, A., Johnson, B. K., & Knobloch-Westerwick, S. (in press). Confirmation biases in selective exposure to political online information: Source bias versus content bias. Communication Monographs. doi: 10.1080/03637751.2016.1272761

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Sep 15 16

Why Do We Compare on Social Media?

by Benjamin

In our latest article, Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick and I investigate how mood motivates social comparisons on social networking sites. Previously, we observed patterns of self-enhancing downward social comparison when people were in negative mood states and the comparison targets involved aggregated cues (i.e., crowdsourced ratings). In our new article at Human Communication Research, we report two experiments that show that the presence of vivid profile content (e.g., images or photographic indicators) or the need to affiliate with a group may lead to more upward patterns of self-enhancement. This involves latching onto, or assimilating, with more attractive or more successful peers. These peers can be inspiring, or we can bask in their reflected glory.

In a related project, Jaap Ouwerkerk and I recently published a study where we illustrate how different personality traits are associated with the motive to “hate-follow” or befriend people online who are sources of downward social comparison and schadenfreude. We also identified motives for inspiration-driven friending, insecurity-driven friending, and more sociable friending. You can find the 40-item measure on my “Scales” page, or over at Social Media + Society (open-access).

 

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Jun 16 16

New Articles on Self-Expansion and Entertainment

by Benjamin

Two new publications by me and coauthors are now available online.

In this month’s Journal of Communication, we have the latest TEBOTS (temporarily expanded boundaries of the self) article (see previous theory and ego-depletion pieces). In the new article, we use self-affirmation to alleviate daily threats to the self, and show that those people in the control group (i.e., those who still had threats) were more responsive to narratives. We also develop and test a new measure, the 10-item boundary expansion scale.

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Over at Media Psychology, I’m part another collaboration, this time with Allison Eden and Serena Daalmans, looking at morally ambiguous characters. The project does several cool things – first it uses crowdsourced categories of antiheroes from tvtropes.com as stimuli, but then it asks participants to nominate an antihero from one of those categories and report a variety of narrative responses they’ve had to that character. Primarily, we show that traditional justice-restoration (i.e., morality) is tied to hedonic enjoyment, while expanding the self-concept (i.e., TEBOTS-ing) is tied to eudaimonic appreciation.

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I hope you’ll check out these new publications, as they have exciting findings about self-expansion and its role in entertainment.

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