Date of Award
Master of Arts
This research sought to determine how and if political polarization is affecting behavior on Facebook. An online survey was constructed to measure levels of polarization, offline political activity, online political activity, and active avoidance behaviors on Facebook. The survey was conducted over 4 weeks. I found that those who encounter a higher amount of political content and discussions on Facebook also reported a higher number of active avoidance behaviors over all. This group was also more likely to report unFriending someone because of something that Friend posted related to political or social issues.
Those with a higher number of reported encounters with political content on Facebook reported a higher level of self-moderation as well, being more likely to delete one of their own posts when that post resulted in disagreeable or offensive comments from others. Those who reported greater frequency of political discussions on Facebook are more likely to delete comments from Friends that they find disagreeable or offensive on their own posts.
The higher the intensity of ideology the more likely respondents were to discuss politics on Facebook and encounter or engage with political content on Facebook. Those with stronger political views were more likely to engage in political discussions and more likely to encounter political content on Facebook. Those with a higher level of perceived political knowledge were more likely to discuss politics and more likely to encounter political content on Facebook.
Those with a higher intensity of ideology, stronger political views, and higher levels of perceived political knowledge discuss politics more frequently and engage in more political activities offline.
Bobbi L. Newman
Newman, Bobbi L., "Polarized and liking it: How political polarization affects active avoidance behavior on Facebook" (2014). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 13686.