Political Opinion Leaders in High-Choice Information Environments: Are They More Informed Than Others?

Jesper Strömbäck*, Elina Lindgren, Yariv Tsfati, Alyt Damstra, Rens Vliegenthart, Hajo Boomgaarden, Elena Broda, Noelle Lebernegg, Sebastian Galyga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

One implication of the transition to high-choice media environments is that what information people are exposed to depend less on journalistic curation and more on social, algorithmic, and personal curation. This has sparked a renewed interest in the concept of political opinion leaders, who are often assumed to be more interested in and informed about politics and society. Theoretically, political opinion leaders could hence help disseminate information to less interested and informed. At the same time, there are theoretical reasons for why political opinion leaders may be more prone to politically motivated reasoning, which may lead them to believe in and disseminate misinformation. Thus far, there is only limited research on whether political opinion leaders are more informed than others that also takes into consideration that some facts are contested, whereas other facts are uncontested. Hence, this paper seeks to investigate the relationship between political opinion leadership and knowledge, distinguishing between (a) uncontested and (b) contested facts. Among other things, findings show that those who score high in political opinion leadership traits in general are not more knowledgeable about contested and uncontested facts.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMass Communication and Society
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Dec 2023

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