Democratic consequences of incidental exposure to political information: A meta-analysis

Author(s)
Andreas Nanz, Jörg Matthes
Abstract

In the last two decades, communication research dedicated substantial attention to the effects of incidental exposure (IE) to political information. In this meta-analysis, we analyzed the relationship of IE and five outcomes relevant for democracies. Including 106 distinct samples with more than 100,000 respondents, we observed positive cross-sectional relationships between IE and news use, political knowledge, political participation, expressive engagement, and political discussion. These effects shrink substantially but remain significant for panel studies. While we found a stronger relationship with knowledge for experiments compared to surveys, the relationship between IE and discussion and participation was not significant for experiments. Overall, findings suggest that IE matters, but its effects are smaller and more nuanced than previously thought. Also, the effects of IE are strongest when there is congruence between the exposure setting and the outcome setting. We discuss theoretical and methodological implications for IE research and the field at large.

Organisation(s)
Department of Communication
Journal
Journal of Communication
Volume
72
Pages
345-373
No. of pages
29
ISSN
0021-9916
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqac008
Publication date
2022
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508007 Communication science
Keywords
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/democratic-consequences-of-incidental-exposure-to-political-information-a-metaanalysis(2ed4fe2c-231a-41da-9319-7242b3451647).html