Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Moderates Expect a Broader Range of Views on Facebook Than the Extremes Do

Most Americans use social networking sites such as Facebook.  About 60% of all liberals and moderates do, and about half of all conservatives do. This is from a new study by Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith.

I was drawn to three particular findings of this study.

First, 38% were surprised to find that some of their friends had different political views than they thought they did. The moderates were the least surprised: only 33%.  By contrast, most of those on the extremes - very liberal (52%) and very conservative (54%) - were surprised to find out what their friends' views were.

I think this means that moderates are more attentive to what other people think, and less likely to assume that their friends agree with them.

Second, the extremes were more likely to say that they always agreed with the political posts of their friends - 20% of very liberal and 17% of very conservative, vs. only 5% of moderates.

This suggests to me that the extremes are more likely to live in an echo chamber of people who agree with one another.

Third, liberals were more likely to block someone because of their liberal views (28%) than either conservatives (16%) or moderates (14%) were. This part of the study did not distinguish between liberal and very liberal, on one end, and conservative and very conservative, on the other.

This suggests that liberals are more intolerant of differing views than other people are.


Michael Kruse said...

Fascinating post! Thanks for the link.

Calmoderate said...

This is in synch with my own anecdotal experiences. Hard core liberals and conservatives tend to cluster together and often (but not always) react badly when faced with contradictory opinion. A reasonable guess is that when one has strongly held ideological positions (the definition of a true liberal or conservative), one feels attacked when in the face of different opinions. That makes sense.

Diane m said...

I suspect moderates are less shocked to find that their friends don't agree with them because they don't see other viewpoints as crazy.

gruntled said...

Agreed. Some unknown portion of moderates get that way because they expect there to be pros and cons of each position.