Is the MENA Surfing to the Extremes? Digital and Social Media, Echo Chambers/Filter Bubbles, and Attitude Extremity

Kevin M. Wagner, Jason Gainous, Allison Warnersmith, Dane Warner


Research suggests that people are motivated to avoid information that challenges their predispositions. They seek out attitude-consistent information, leading to more extreme attitudes. While research suggests that the Internet facilitates this selective exposure more easily than traditional media, there is little evidence that it contributes to issue attitude extremity, and even less outside the Western context. We seek to fill that gap using survey data from the Arab Barometer. Our results indicate that digital information consumption consistently predicts issue attitude extremity, but some part of that relationship is mediated by political attentiveness. These results have tangible implications for understanding the complex relationship between public opinion and governance in societies with limited or absent democratic structures.


digital communication, social media, political communication, attitude extremity, Middle East and Northern Africa, polarization

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