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Can Exposure To Opposing Views On Social Media Shape Your Politics?

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A new study led by a Duke professor exposed Twitter users to opposing political views. The users ended up becoming even more polarized, especially Republicans.

Note: This segment is a rebroadcast from September 5, 2018. 

A team of researchers led by Duke University sociologist Christopher Bail ran an experiment to expose a group of Twitter users to political views that were in opposition to their own. The study was aimed at gauging whether stepping out of a social media silo and reading about political perspectives from a broader ideological spectrum helped shift people’s own political leanings.

The results found that Democrats who were exposed to Republican content tended to veer further left (though not by a statistically significant degree) and Republicans who were exposed to Democratic content veered further right. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Bail about the study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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