Project

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Media, information consumption and politics (MICAP)

English title Media, information consumption and politics (MICAP)
Applicant Trechsel Alexander
Number 182139
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Politikwissenschaftliches Seminar Kultur- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät Universität Luzern
Institution of higher education University of Lucerne - LU
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.11.2018 - 31.10.2021
Approved amount 523'436.00
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Keywords (5)

Political communication; Political behaviour; Public opinion; Social psychology; Media

Lay Summary (Italian)

Lead
Politici e cittadini sono sempre più divisi sui temi della politica. L’aumento della polarizzazione, oltre che dalla crisi economica e sociale dello scorso decennio, dipende in parte dal modo in cui l’informazione politica viene veicolata: Internet e i social media forniscono un volume di informazioni senza precedenti ed è perciò fondamentale capire come viene utilizzato dai cittadini.
Lay summary

Soggetto e obiettivo

La diffusione delle nuove tecnologie dell’informazione genera preoccupazioni crescenti legate sia ad un loro uso strumentale, per esempio tramite account propagandistici e fake news, che alla loro tendenza a generare reti sociali omogenee per valori e preferenze politiche. Il progetto si propone di ampliare la comprensione teorica ed empirica dell’impatto delle nuove tecnologie dell’informazione sulla polarizzazione politica e, insieme, di valutare le Applicazioni per Consiglio di Voto (Voting Advice Applications) come un potenziale strumento di moderazione e partecipazione. Un importante obiettivo teorico è di comprendere il ruolo del profilo cognitivo degli elettori, ed in particolare del loro grado di chiusura/apertura cognitiva, sia in termini di pluralismo nelle fonti informative selezionate, che in termini di polarizzazione delle preferenze politiche.

 

Contesto socio-scientifico

Il progetto segue un approccio quantitativo per lo studio del nesso di mediazione causale tra profilo cognitivo degli elettori, la loro dieta mediatica, e la polarizzazione delle preferenze politiche. Si segnalano metodi di ricerca altamente innovativi, come esperimenti su campione rappresentativo operati direttamente online con un’apposita app per smartphone.

 
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 31.10.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Abstract

Media, information consumption and politics (MICAP) is motivated by the goal of expanding our knowledge of the consequences of a profoundly changed media environment on the formation of voters’ attitudes and behaviors. This project was designed before the background of an intriguing fact: most observers of media segregation, media communication and political behavior in the digital age opt for either the development of holistic theoretical frameworks or for the empirical analysis of partial bits and pieces of the potential linkages behind these processes. Thus, and this constitutes the rationale for our project, we lack a fuller theoretical and empirical understanding of the disruptive developments produced by the Internet that affect our democracies, and in particular the modern election campaigns.Our main objective is therefore to shed new light, in a European context, on the effects of media segregation on media consumption and public opinion formation processes. We use both mainstream methods that have firmly established themselves in political science (such as large-n surveys and randomized field experiments) but also truly innovate by making use of new technological tools (and in particular a smartphone application) that will enable us to gather so far inaccessible information. Also, we will be able to link the “old” and “new” news media consumption with the usage patterns regarding “objective” campaign information, such as the one produced by voting advice applications during election campaigns.With this project we pursue the ambition to explore uncharted territories of public opinion formation by linking previously non-related subfields, such as political psychology and political communication, and introducing a most innovative research design. The expected results have important implications for our scientific understanding of political behavior during elections. We aim at answering crucial questions, such as: how do voters inform themselves through news media? Are information bubbles and echo chambers a real existing outcome of the strongly enlarged choice set in the world of news media? What are the mechanisms leading to segregated or diversified media consumption during elections and how do these patterns impact on political attitudes of voters? How is non-partisan, non-media produced information consumed and how does it affect public opinion? Can the mindset of individuals indeed explain the patterns we are researching in this field? The answers to these questions will also travel well beyond the scientific community, informing wider publics in Europe and beyond.
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