The echo chamber is overstated: the moderating effect of political interest and diverse media
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:Usage & Uptake
In a high-choice media environment, there are fears that individuals will select media and content that reinforce their existing beliefs and lead to segregation based on interest and/or partisanship. This could lead to partisan echo chambers among those who are politically interested and could contribute to a growing gap in knowledge between those who are politically interested and those who are not. However, the high-choice environment also allows individuals, including those who are politically interested, to consume a wide variety of media, which could lead them to more diverse content and perspectives. This study examines the relationship between political interest as well as media diversity and being caught in an echo chamber (measured by five different variables). Using a nationally representative survey of adult internet users in the United Kingdom (N = 2000), we find that those who are interested in politics and those with diverse media diets tend to avoid echo chambers. This work challenges the impact of echo chambers and tempers fears of partisan segregation since only a small segment of the population are likely to find themselves in an echo chamber. We argue that single media studies and studies which use narrow definitions and measurements of being in an echo chamber are flawed because they do not test the theory in the realistic context of a multiple media environment.