When Does Incidental Exposure Prompt Political Participation? Cross-National Research on the Importance of Individualism and Collectivism

Dam Hee Kim, Nojin Kwak


While people may accidentally come across political information online, the question of the conditions under which this incidental exposure facilitates political participation remains. To answer this question, the current study acknowledges the need to consider the content of incidental exposure, namely, information that supports or challenges one’s views. Furthermore, this relationship between incidental exposure and political participation may depend on individuals’ cultural worldviews of themselves and their social units: individualism and collectivism. By analyzing two panel survey data sets collected before the presidential elections in the United States and South Korea, the current study advances a dual theoretical model in which pro-/counter-attitudinal incidental exposure and collectivism/individualism interact respectively to predict political participation offline and online. We find that pro-attitudinal incidental exposure may be a catalyst for political participation among highly collectivist individuals, whereas counter-attitudinal incidental exposure may be a suppressor among people who hold weak individualist values in the United States rather than in Korea.


incidental exposure, cross-cutting exposure, political participation, collectivism, individualism

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