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.
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