By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
I have a confession to make: I cannot resist joining political arguments on social media. I know, I know, no one ever changes their minds and nearly all discussions end in stalemate. But for a student of psychology, argumentation, and persuasion, they can be pretty illuminating nonetheless. And the biggest takeaway is this: The left and the right today aren't just divided by different policies, beliefs and attitudes. Instead they're on different islands, subsisting on different information diets. The starting points, the facts that are taken to be true without the need for further support, the sources that are considered reliable and fair, all of these seem to depend on one's preferred political leaning. And that liberal or conservative stance will determine and be determined by one's preferred source of news. As Pew Research has reported, news viewers are more segregated than ever. And the differences between individual views on the full spectrum of current issues -- race relations, environmental protection, healthcare, marriage equality, church and state, etc. -- are very stark as a result.
That is why it is common to ask potential jurors in voir dire,"What is your preferred source of news on current events?" It wasn't always the case, but in today's polarized and ideologically segregated marketplace of ideas, the question serves as an increasingly effective proxy for, "What is your political leaning?" But as common as the question is, particularly when you have a supplemental questionnaire, I have found that attorneys don't always know how to interpret and to use the results. In this post, I will try to share a bit of what we know on which sources are more conservative and which are more liberal, and what those evident differences in worldview might mean for the typical case.