Exposure to online news and polarization of xenophobic attitudes

This is the English translation of our research paper published in 2018, “Intanetto deno nyusu sessyoku to haigai-syugi-teki taido no kyokuseika” (「インターネットでのニュース接触と排外主義的態度の極性化」), Journal of Information & Communication Research, 127, pp.99-109.

Exposure to online news and polarization of xenophobic attitudes
A quantitative analysis of survey data in Japan and the U.S.

TSUJI Daiuke and KITAMURA Satoshi, 2020, Osaka Human Sciences, vol.6, pp.1-17.

1. The Problem of Xenophobia and the Internet
2. The Internet and the “Polarization” of Attitudes and Opinion
3. Developing a New Appropriate Methodology to Analyze Polarization
4. Survey Data and Variables Used for Analysis
5. Results
6. Summary of Conclusions and Future Work

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Many scholars and journalists have raised the possibility that the Internet expands the divide in public opinion and society by polarizing people’s opinions about political issues. Selective exposure to news and civic information is more likely to occur on the Internet than in the mass-media-centered environment of the past. This study focused on cyber-racism, such as the “Alt-Right” in the U.S. and “Nettouyoku” in Japan. We examined the relations between the polarization of xenophobic attitudes and the frequency of exposure to online news on PCs/smartphones. We used data from online questionnaire surveys conducted in the U.S. and Japan in 2016. The results of quantile regression analyses showed that in Japan exposure to online news via PCs signifi cantly expanded the polarization of users’ attitudes, whereas in the U.S. it shifted the attitudes uniformly toward an anti-xenophobic direction. These findings suggest that social, political, and cultural contexts infl uence the occurrence of opinion polarization on the Internet.