Political Disagreement and Uncertainty: Examining the Interplay of Political Talk and News Use in Online and Offline Environments

Bumsoo Kim, Matthew Barnidge


Contrary to popular arguments about “echo chambers” and “filter bubbles,” evidence shows that social media tend to promote exposure to political disagreement. But if this disagreement has little to no effect on individuals’ attitudes and opinions, the democratic benefits of this increased exposure could be limited. This study empirically investigates whether exposure to political disagreement in social media versus face-to-face settings has differential effects on individuals’ uncertainty about their political opinions and beliefs. In doing so, the paper accounts for the interplay in news use and political discussion in these two settings. The results show (a) differences in the relationship between political disagreement and uncertainty in social media and face-to-face settings and (b) considerable overlap in discussion and reflection processes between these two settings. Results are discussed in light of ongoing conversations about the democratic benefits of political disagreement.


political disagreement; uncertainty; social media; news use; political talk; political discussion; communication mediation model

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