When Partisans Do Not Share Partisan News: Third-Person Effect in an Era of Polarized Politics

Seungsu Lee, Jaeho Cho


In the context of partisan news, the present study examines (1) how partisan news slant and comparison target interact in inducing the third-person perception (TPP) and (2) how TPP is related to online behavioral reactions to the news. An online experiment reveals a significant interaction between content slant (proattitudinal vs. counterattitudinal news) and comparison target (in-group vs. out-group others) on TPP. That is, TPP as a function of exposure to proattitudinal news, as compared to exposure to counterattitudinal news, is larger when the comparison target is out-group members. Further, the interaction pattern is more evident among strong partisans. Next, TPP indirectly reduces news-sharing/posting/commenting intention through devaluing perceived news quality. Yet, the indirect effect is significant only when partisans are compared with political out-group members, not to in-group members. This implies that partisans are motivated to correct public opinion by suppressing the opposite side in the online public sphere.


third-person effect, presumed media influence, partisan news, perceived news quality, news sharing, corrective action

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