Unfriending and Muting During Elections: The Antecedents and Consequences of Selective Avoidance on Social Media

Dam Hee Kim, S. Mo Jones-Jang, Kate Kenski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although selective avoidance, commonly practiced as unfriending and muting on social media, has been assumed to be at odds with the democratic ideal of deliberation, academic literature says little about its antecedents and consequences. Drawing from the framework of psychological needs for information processing, we examine whether need for cognition and need to evaluate interact to predict selective avoidance, which then facilitates political expression on social media. Analyses of a two-wave survey collected before and after the 2018 midterm election in the U.S. suggest that individuals with low need for cognition but high need to evaluate were relatively unlikely to engage in selective avoidance. However, the supposedly ideal type of citizens high on both needs tended to engage in selective avoidance intensively to further engage in political expression on social media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-184
Number of pages24
JournalMass Communication and Society
Volume25
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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