Encouraging Reading of Diverse Political Viewpoints with a Browser Widget
Keywords:selective exposure, news, politics, web browsing, persuasive technology, persistent feedback
The Internet gives individuals more choice in political news and information sources and more tools to filter out disagreeable information. Citing the preference described by selective exposure theory — people prefer information that supports their beliefs and avoid counter-attitudinal information — observers warn that people may use these tools to access only agreeable information and thus live in ideological echo chambers. We report on a field deployment of a browser extension that showed users feedback about the political lean of their weekly and all time reading behaviors. Compared to a control group, showing feedback led to a modest move toward balanced exposure, corresponding to 1-2 visits per week to ideologically opposing sites or 5-10 additional visits per week to centrist sites.