Think the Vote: Information Processing, Selective Exposure to Social Media, and Support for Trump and Clinton

Thomas J. Johnson, Magdalena Saldana, Barbara K. Kaye


This study proposes a three-way interaction model that examines how (1) partisan selective exposure to political information on social media, (2) information processing, and (3) ideology influenced support for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for president. Findings indicate that processing election information systematically affected support for Clinton among those who were exposed to diverse information; otherwise, heuristics were the main cue to process political information. Conservatives supporting Trump relied on heuristic processing and avoided information that challenged their beliefs. Liberals, in contrast, were more likely to systematically process election information, but the effect was significant only for those who exposed themselves to diverse information. As such, systematic processing might not make a difference in highly polarized environments, where strong partisans are unlikely to engage with different viewpoints and expose themselves to diverse information.


systematic processing, heuristic processing, selective approach, selective avoidance, ideology, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton

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