OSU researchers—through a recent study—now have a new perspective on why people who consume only partisan media outlets are more likely than their peers to believe a false statement about their side’s political opposites.
One debunked cause of such beliefs is the so-called “media bubble” in which a media consumer is exposed only to things they already believe or things that are false. In fact, the study found the strongest indicator of whether or not a consumer would believe a falsehood about their party’s opponent was the level at which the partisan media outlets they use promote hostility against the other party.
The researchers used data from the most recent 2016 and the previous 2012 presidential elections. The study found that US citizens who consumed a heavy dose of partisan media had stronger negative reactions to their political opponents. This dislike was then linked to a stronger likelihood to believe falsehoods or twisted facts about their political opponents.
While the study did suggest that the link between hostility, belief in falsehoods and partisan media consumption was more prominent among Republicans than Democrats, the researchers were quick to note that this was not the focus of the study and that their data alone wasn’t nearly enough to prove such an association.