Title of Abstract

Social Media influences on Politics for American Adults

Submitting Student(s)

Charandeep Kaur
Cynthia Bruce

Session Title

Additional Projects

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Hye-Sung Kim, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

Abstract

Social media use plays an important role in shaping our political views. In this paper, we investigate how social media influences Americans’ political attitudes. Specifically, we test two alternative hypotheses. First, individuals who use social media frequently can be exposed to and see more posts related to politics, giving them more opportunities to change their views on political issues than those who see fewer posts on social media related to politics. Second, because social media users are likely to be shown posts that are related to their political leaning and their personal interests due to the algorithms the social media platforms use, individuals who use social media frequently are more likely to be exposed to posts confirming their existing beliefs. By using survey datasets from the PEW Research, we test these two contrasting hypotheses. We expect that if the first hypothesis is at work, individuals using social media frequently are likely to have moderate political views and be swing voters. By contrast, if the second hypothesis is at work, we expect that individuals using social media frequently are likely to have polarized political views. We test these hypotheses by using multiple regression analyses where the dependent variables are political ideology and voting intention and the main independent variable is the frequency of social media use. We control for a potential confounder, i.e. age, because younger people are more likely to be active on social media platforms than older people and also tend to hold more liberal political ideology.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

Social Media influences on Politics for American Adults

Social media use plays an important role in shaping our political views. In this paper, we investigate how social media influences Americans’ political attitudes. Specifically, we test two alternative hypotheses. First, individuals who use social media frequently can be exposed to and see more posts related to politics, giving them more opportunities to change their views on political issues than those who see fewer posts on social media related to politics. Second, because social media users are likely to be shown posts that are related to their political leaning and their personal interests due to the algorithms the social media platforms use, individuals who use social media frequently are more likely to be exposed to posts confirming their existing beliefs. By using survey datasets from the PEW Research, we test these two contrasting hypotheses. We expect that if the first hypothesis is at work, individuals using social media frequently are likely to have moderate political views and be swing voters. By contrast, if the second hypothesis is at work, we expect that individuals using social media frequently are likely to have polarized political views. We test these hypotheses by using multiple regression analyses where the dependent variables are political ideology and voting intention and the main independent variable is the frequency of social media use. We control for a potential confounder, i.e. age, because younger people are more likely to be active on social media platforms than older people and also tend to hold more liberal political ideology.