Kenneth M. Miller
horse race coverage and selective exposure
This study explores how the use of a game frame, or "horse race" style coverage of politics can encourage partisans to engage in selective exposure - the practice of avoiding news that is inconsistent with their political attitudes. Using a survey experiment embedded in the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, the moderating effect of game frame headline frames on partisans' propensity to avoid news stories is measured. Secondly, this study assesses if negative news frames have more powerful effects than positive news frames. Patterns of selective exposure are observed, but only among Republican respondents. When presented political news framing the story using a game frame, Republican respondents are more likely to avoid the dissonant political story than when the news carries a neutral issue frame. Furthermore, Republican respondents were more likely to avoid a story framed as bad news for Republicans than a story framed as good news for Democrats. Respondents' policy attitudes on the subject of the political news in the experiment, immigration, were not a moderating factor in these results. To the contrary, the observed patterns of selective exposure appeared to be driven by partisan identity and issue salience and not by policy attitudes.