Friday, October 14, 2022

Non-news Websites Expose People to More Political Content Than News Websites: Evidence from Browsing Data in Three Countries

Wojcieszak, Magdalena, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, Bernhard Clemm von Hohenberg, Sjifra E. de Leeuw, João Gonçalves, Samuel Davidson, and Alexandre Gonçalves. 2022. “Non-news Websites Expose People to More Political Content Than News Websites: Evidence from Browsing Data in Three Countries.” OSF Preprints. October 13. doi:10.31219/

Abstract: Most scholars focus on the prevalence and democratic effects of (partisan) news exposure. This focus misses large parts of online activities of a majority of politically disinterested citizens. Although political content also appears outside of news outlets and may profoundly shape public opinion, its prevalence and effects are under-studied at scale. This project combines three-wave panel survey data from three countries (total N = 6,892) with online behavioral data from the same participants (119.7M visits). We create a multi-lingual classifier to identify political content both in news and outside (e.g. in shopping or entertainment sites). We find that news consumption is infrequent: just 3.4% of participants’ online browsing comprised visits to news sites. Only between 14% (NL) and 36% (US) of these visits were to hard news. The overwhelming majority of participants' visits were to non-news sites. Although only 1.6% of those visits related to politics, in absolute terms, citizens encounter politics more frequently outside of news than within news. Out of every 10 visits to political content, 3 come from news and 7 from non-news sites. Furthermore, non-news exposure to political content had the same – and in some cases stronger - associations with key democratic attitudes and behaviors as news exposure. These findings offer a comprehensive analysis of the online political (not solely news) ecosystem and demonstrate the importance of assessing the prevalence and effects of political content in non-news sources.

Ordinary people too harbor the vision of an utopia or "ideal" society; incorporating science into one's utopia is clearly a minus, except in China, where pro-environmental attitudes are not opposite to science

Profiles of an Ideal Society: The Utopian Visions of Ordinary People. Julian W. Fernando et al. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Oct 13 2022.

Abstract: Throughout history, people have expressed the desire for an ideal society—a utopia. These imagined societies have motivated action for social change. Recent research has demonstrated this motivational effect among ordinary people in English-speaking countries, but we know little about the specific content of ordinary people’s utopian visions in different cultures. Here we report that a majority of samples from four countries—Australia, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States—converge on a small number of utopian visions: a Modern Green utopia, a Primitivist utopia, a Futurist utopia, and a Religious utopia. Although the prevalence of these utopia profiles differed across countries, there was a cross-cultural convergence in utopian visions. These shared visions may provide common ground for conversations about how to achieve a better future across cultural borders.

We believe that it would benefit ourselves more than others if we succeeded in becoming a better person

Sun, Jessie, Joshua A. Wilt, Peter Meindl, Hanne M. Watkins, and Geoffrey Goodwin. 2022. “How and Why People Want to Be More Moral.” PsyArXiv. October 13. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: What types of moral improvements do people wish to make? Do they hope to become more good, or less bad? Do they wish to be more caring? More honest? More loyal? And why exactly do they want to become more moral? Presumably, most people want to improve their morality because this would benefit others, but is this in fact their primary motivation? Here, we begin to investigate these questions. Across two large, preregistered studies (N = 1,818), participants provided open-ended descriptions of one change they could make in order to become more moral; they then reported their beliefs about and motives for this change. In both studies, people most frequently expressed desires to improve their compassion and more often framed their moral improvement goals in terms of amplifying good behaviors than curbing bad ones. The strongest predictor of moral motivation was the extent to which people believed that making the change would have positive consequences for their own well-being. Together, these studies provide rich descriptive insights into how ordinary people want to be more moral, and show that they are particularly motivated to do so for their own sake.