How do choices among information sources reinforce political differences on topics such as climate change? Environmental sociologists have observed large-scale and long-term impacts from news media and think-tank reports, while experimental science-communication studies detect more immediate effects from variations in supplied information. Applying generalized structural equation modeling to recent survey data, previous work is extended to show that political ideology, education and their interaction predict news media information choices in much the same way they predict opinions about climate change itself. Consequently, media information sources serve as intervening variables that can reinforce and, through their own independent effects, amplify existing beliefs about climate change. Results provide empirical support for selective exposure and biased assimilation as mechanisms widening political divisions on climate change in the United States. The findings fit with the reinforcing spirals framework suggesting partisan media strengthens climate change beliefs which then influences subsequent use of media.


Sociology, Carsey School of Public Policy, Sustainability Institute

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Environmental Politics


Taylor & Francis

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This is an Author’s Original Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Environmental Politics in 2018, available online:

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