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Exposure to opposing views on social media can increase political polarization

Overview of attention for article published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, August 2018
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (98th percentile)

Mentioned by

news
39 news outlets
blogs
9 blogs
twitter
638 tweeters
facebook
2 Facebook pages
wikipedia
1 Wikipedia page
googleplus
4 Google+ users
reddit
4 Redditors
video
1 video uploader

Citations

dimensions_citation
5 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
103 Mendeley
citeulike
1 CiteULike
Title
Exposure to opposing views on social media can increase political polarization
Published in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, August 2018
DOI 10.1073/pnas.1804840115
Pubmed ID
Authors

Christopher A. Bail, Lisa P. Argyle, Taylor W. Brown, John P. Bumpus, Haohan Chen, M. B. Fallin Hunzaker, Jaemin Lee, Marcus Mann, Friedolin Merhout, Alexander Volfovsky

Abstract

There is mounting concern that social media sites contribute to political polarization by creating "echo chambers" that insulate people from opposing views about current events. We surveyed a large sample of Democrats and Republicans who visit Twitter at least three times each week about a range of social policy issues. One week later, we randomly assigned respondents to a treatment condition in which they were offered financial incentives to follow a Twitter bot for 1 month that exposed them to messages from those with opposing political ideologies (e.g., elected officials, opinion leaders, media organizations, and nonprofit groups). Respondents were resurveyed at the end of the month to measure the effect of this treatment, and at regular intervals throughout the study period to monitor treatment compliance. We find that Republicans who followed a liberal Twitter bot became substantially more conservative posttreatment. Democrats exhibited slight increases in liberal attitudes after following a conservative Twitter bot, although these effects are not statistically significant. Notwithstanding important limitations of our study, these findings have significant implications for the interdisciplinary literature on political polarization and the emerging field of computational social science.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 638 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 103 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 103 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 33 32%
Student > Master 15 15%
Unspecified 12 12%
Student > Bachelor 9 9%
Researcher 9 9%
Other 25 24%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Social Sciences 45 44%
Psychology 16 16%
Unspecified 15 15%
Computer Science 7 7%
Engineering 2 2%
Other 18 17%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 880. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 20 March 2019.
All research outputs
#4,499
of 12,696,037 outputs
Outputs from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
#180
of 78,424 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#241
of 271,227 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
#11
of 913 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 12,696,037 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 78,424 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 22.7. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 271,227 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 913 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 98% of its contemporaries.