Hostile media perceptionaffects news bias, but not news sharing intentions

Hostile media perceptionaffects news bias, but not news sharing intentions

Abstract

Hostile media perception (HMP) theory suggests that partisans perceive neutral coverage of news by outlets opposite to their political leaning as biased against their side. We conducted two pre-registered online experiments to assess the effect of HMP on news bias and news sharing intentions regarding two salient and controversial topics in the US: police conduct (Study 1, N = 817) and COVID-19 norms (Study 2, N = 819). Results show that partisans perceive neutral coverage of news by outlets opposite to their political leaning as biased, even when we account for their prior beliefs regarding the media outlet and news content. However, HMP seems to be limited in its consequences, as it has little impact on partisans’ willingness to share news from outlets of opposite political leaning, even though the news is perceived as biased.

Publication
Royal Society Open Science