We’re a good match: Selective political friending on social networking sites

GND
1247674487
ORCID
0000-0002-6220-6325
Affiliation
University of Duisburg-Essen Department of Computer Science and Cognitive Sciences Duisburg-Essen Germany
Cargnino, Manuel;
GND
1122441630
ORCID
0000-0002-7006-7089
LSF
54726
Affiliation
University of Duisburg-Essen Duisburg-Essen Germany
Neubaum, German;
Affiliation
University of Koblenz-Landau Koblenz-Landau Germany
Winter, Stephan

To date, the role of user behavior in the formation of politically homogeneous online environments (oftentimes called echo chambers) is not fully understood. Building on selective exposure research, we introduce the notion of selective political friending, that is, the preference for political like-mindedness in social affiliations on social networking sites. In a pre-registered laboratory experiment with users of social networking sites in Germany (N = 199), we find that users preferably build connections with those who share their opinions toward controversial political issues. Political like-mindedness outperforms other friending criteria such as popularity or career-related fit with another user. Political friending is pronounced when individuals’ pre-existing opinions are strong. The present study points to the necessity to take the motivational complexity into account when studying phenomena linked to political homogeneity on SNS.

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