Knowledge and the news: An investigation of the relation between news use, news avoidance, and the presence of (mis)beliefs.

Alyt Damstra, Rens Vliegenthart, Hajo Boomgaarden, Kathrin Glüer, Elina Lindgren, Jesper Strömbäck, Yariv Tsfati

While increasing scholarly attention has been devoted to news avoidance, there are only few studies taking the distinction between intentional and unintentional news avoidance into consideration, and none that has investigated the linkage between the two types of news avoidance and knowledge about politics and society. To fill this void, this study explores this relationship while distinguishing between knowledge related to uncontested issues and knowledge related to issues that have been subject to public controversies (climate change, vaccination, genetically modified organisms, crime, and immigration). Relying on a large-scale survey among Swedish citizens conducted in 2020 (N = 2,160), we find that the relationship with patterns of news use is substantially different across these types of beliefs. Among other things, the results suggest that knowledge of uncontested issue domains is positively related to news use, but knowledge of contested issue domains is not. The intentional avoidance of news is only negatively related to knowledge of contested issues. Taken together, the results suggest that the mechanisms driving beliefs related to uncontested versus contested issues are substantially different.

Department of Communication
External organisation(s)
Stockholm University, University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Gothenburg, University of Haifa
The International Journal of Press/Politics
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508009 Media research, 508012 Media impact studies
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