SMRL Talk: Dr. Miriam Metzger

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

2435 North Quad

Cognitive Dissonance About Cognitive Dissonance in Partisan Selective Exposure to News

Festinger’s Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957) is the most widely accepted theoretical explanation for why news consumers appear to prefer news from politically like-minded sources over news from attitude-discrepant sources (i.e., partisan selective exposure). The assumption has been that people avoid attitude-discrepant information because it creates psychological discomfort for news consumers that they seek to avoid. Interestingly, however, very few studies have put this explanation to the test. Dr. Metzger will share some of her ongoing research that calls into question the validity of cognitive dissonance as a theoretical mechanism driving partisan selective exposure. This research also proposes and tests a new mechanism (i.e., credibility), and a new moderating variable (i.e., flexible thinking), that may better account for the findings seen in the partisan selective exposure literature to date. 

Speaker bio:
Professor Metzger is in the Department of Communications at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research lies at the intersection of information technology  and trust, centering on how information and communication technologies alter our understandings of credibility and force us to confront new challenges in protecting our privacy. She also examines the social, theoretical, and regulatory changes brought about by emerging information and communication technologies. Her work has been widely published in the field of communication and beyond, and she has co-edited two volumes investigating issues of digital literacy. Outside her home department, Dr. Metzger serves as the Ph.D. Emphasis Director of the Center for Information, Technology and Society (CITS-UCSB), where she is also a faculty affiliate. 

The Social Media Research Lab (SMRL) is based at the University of Michigan School of Information. SMRL is directed by Professors Nicole Ellison, Cliff Lampe, Casey Pierce, and Sarita Yardi Schoenebeck. Our research explores the effects of social media use in home, school, and work settings. We draw on theories from computer-mediated communication, media studies, online communities, and human-centered computing in our research. Our goal is to understand how social media use effects everyday life and how it can be leveraged to positively impact educational outcomes, civic engagement, and social relationships.