Why Do Partisan Audiences Participate? Perceived Public Opinion as the Mediating Mechanism

Shira Dvir-Gvirsman*, R. Kelly Garrett, Yariv Tsfati

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The bulk of current literature on partisan media explores its various detrimental influences on the democratic sphere. This study highlights a possible positive outcome of partisan media consumption: enhanced political participation. It is hypothesized that consumption of congruent partisan media will tilt perceptions of opinion climate so that it is viewed as more supportive of one’s views, while consumption of incongruent partisan media is viewed as less supportive. Consequently, consumers of congruent partisan media will participate more, and vice versa. The hypotheses are tested using two panel studies: the first conducted during the 2012 U.S. presidential elections (N = 377) whereas the second, during the 2013 Israeli election (N = 340). In the Israeli case, survey data are supplemented with behavioral measures. All hypotheses are supported except the one regarding the effects of incongruent partisan media exposure. The results are discussed in light of the spiral of silence theory and the selective exposure hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-136
Number of pages25
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • partisan media
  • perception of opinion climate
  • political participation
  • selective exposure
  • spiral of silence


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