Issues, involvement, and influence: Effects of selective exposure and sharing on polarization and participation

Benjamin K. Johnson*, Rachel L. Neo, Marieke E.M. Heijnen, Lotte Smits, Caitrina van Veen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although research has amply demonstrated that people exhibit confirmatory biases associated with exposure and information sharing on social media, there is a lack of research attempting to parse out the respective effects of selective exposure and sharing on political outcomes, especially in non-U.S. contexts. In this experiment, we tested the extent of confirmation bias in Dutch Facebook users’ selection and sharing of opinionated news about three political issues. The relative contributions of selecting versus sharing pro-attitudinal (and counter-attitudinal) messages were assessed for their influences on attitude polarization and political participation. Value- and impression-involvement were considered as moderating factors. Findings indicate that a confirmation bias is much more consistently observed in selective sharing than in selective exposure. Second, pro-attitudinal selective sharing is a more robust predictor of political outcomes than pro-attitudinal selective exposure. Third, the effects of selective sharing and exposure on political outcomes depend more on value involvement than impression relevant involvement. Finally, between-topic differences were evident for the extent of confirmation bias and its effects on political outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106155
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Early online date1 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Experiment
  • Involvement
  • Online news
  • Online participation
  • Polarization
  • Selective exposure
  • Selective sharing


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