The real consequence of online partisan media may be an erosion of trust in mainstream news, according to new work by Andy Guess

Tuesday, Mar 30, 2021

A new paper by Andrew Guess, assistant professor of politics and CSDP faculty associate, uses a combination of experimentation and computational social science techniques to study the long-term consequences of exposure to partisan news. The consequences of online partisan media (joint with Pablo Barbera, Simon Munzert, and JungHwan Yang), published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is featured on the Princeton University homepage.

We asked our study participants to change a default setting on their devices — the browser homepage. The result was a classic nudge-like effect, demonstrating the importance of basic digital ‘opt-ins’ to structure people’s information consumption. Just as we were able to boost the partisan composition of people’s news diets, social platforms, public media, and other intermediaries can draw on our findings to promote authoritative, nonpartisan sources of information. This could be part of the solution as society looks for ways to reverse our downward spiral of distrust.