Seeking Congruency or Incongruency Online? Examining Selective Exposure to Four Controversial Science Issues

S. Mo Jang

This study examined how citizens select science information online based on their preexisting issue attitudes. Voluntary national samples browsed through an online news magazine featuring divergent viewpoints about four controversial science topics (stem cell, evolution, genetically modified foods, and global warming). Their online activities, including article selection and the length of exposure, were unobtrusively measured by behavior tracking software. Participants tended to choose science information that challenged rather than supported their views concerning stem cell and genetically modified foods. However, those who perceived that they had sufficient science knowledge and were religious exhibited confirmation-bias, preferring congruent to incongruent information.

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