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Tweeting from left to right: is online political communication more than an echo chamber?

Barberá, Pablo, Jost, John T., Nagler, Jonathan, Tucker, Joshua A. and Bonneau, Richard (2015) Tweeting from left to right: is online political communication more than an echo chamber? Psychological Science, 26 (10). pp. 1531-1542. ISSN 0956-7976

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0956797615594620


We estimated ideological preferences of 3.8 million Twitter users and, using a data set of nearly 150 million tweets concerning 12 political and nonpolitical issues, explored whether online communication resembles an “echo chamber” (as a result of selective exposure and ideological segregation) or a “national conversation.” We observed that information was exchanged primarily among individuals with similar ideological preferences in the case of political issues (e.g., 2012 presidential election, 2013 government shutdown) but not many other current events (e.g., 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, 2014 Super Bowl). Discussion of the Newtown shootings in 2012 reflected a dynamic process, beginning as a national conversation before transforming into a polarized exchange. With respect to both political and nonpolitical issues, liberals were more likely than conservatives to engage in cross-ideological dissemination; this is an important asymmetry with respect to the structure of communication that is consistent with psychological theory and research bearing on ideological differences in epistemic, existential, and relational motivation. Overall, we conclude that previous work may have overestimated the degree of ideological segregation in social-media usage.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 SAGE Publications
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2018 11:39
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2024 17:06
Projects: SES-1248077
Funders: INSPIRE program of the National Science Foundation, New York University Global Institute for Advanced Study, Dean Thomas Carew’s Research Investment Fund at New York University

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