EXPO: Citizens Exposed to Dissimilar Views in the Media

This ERC funded project aims to identify when and under which conditions mediated exposure to dissimilar views amplifies or attenuates polarization and hostilities among citizens with different opinions. This project accounts for (1) individual, (2) social, and (3) system factors that together drive dissimilar exposure and its effects on polarization versus understanding, among other attitudinal, cognitive and behavioural outcomes. This project also examines whether these factors play out differently depending on old and new media channels, various political issues, intended and incidental exposure, and the mix of content that people encounter.

We combine online behaviour tracking, automated content analyses, panel surveys, qualitative work, and experiments in three countries — the Netherlands, Poland, and the U.S.

Research Methods

To identify the effects of exposure to political content on opinion change, we combine three different data sources: (a) Users’ web browsing records, (b) computationally classified political news content, and (c) panel surveys on political attitudes.

Participants from three countries will upload their web log via an open sourced tracking tool, Web Historian, developed by one of our team members, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, and also answer repeated survey questions on their media use and political attitudes. Our research team downloads all the political contents the participants accessed on the Web, and computationally classifies them by leveraging supervised learning algorithms.


EXPO will offer insights for scholars, policymakers and practitioners working on media diversity and social cohesion in the era of political polarization and distrust. Further, the research design suggests a novel way to link different methodological tools to investigate real-world media effect on political attitudes.