Beyond political differences: the influence of exposure to disagreements and the mediating role of emotional responses on selective exposure
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This study examined the influence of exposure to online discussion boards and discussion participation in the online discussion boards on opinion-challenging news use. Based on cognitive dissonance theory and media choice model, a 2 (exposure to disagreement: position-convergent discussion vs. position-divergent discussion) X 2 (discussion participation: participation vs. non-participation) mixed factorial design examined the role of online discussion boards on selective exposure to political news. Also, the emotional responses toward discussions were suggested as a mediator between the influence of exposure to disagreements on opinion-challenging news use. Results showed that when participants were exposed to position-divergent online discussion boards, they perceived the opinion-challenging news articles to be more useful and interesting. Also, discussion participation was found to moderate the effect of the exposure to position-divergent online discussion boards on the utility of opinion-challenging news use. Mediation analyses suggested that positive emotional responses and negative emotional responses were significant mediators for opinion-challenging news choices in discussion participation conditions. Theoretical implications of the findings are discussed.