• Department of Political Science
  • Social & Behavioral Science Building, 7th floor
  • Stony Brook University
  • Stony Brook NY 11794-4392
  • james.cragun [[ at ]] stonybrook . edu

Rigid Religious Faith Promotes Selective Exposure to Attitude-Congruent Political Information


When seeking political information, people are motivated to selectively seek information that is congruent with their prior attitudes. However, some individuals may do so more than others, and not much is known about what factors affect such individual differences. Rigid religious faith is one variable that may promote selective exposure. Messages of the importance of rigid faith --- the idea that religious beliefs must be held firmly and not doubted --- could encourage a habit of selective exposure to information that supports existing religious beliefs. As a side effect, this habit of selective exposure might be applied outside the context of religion. In this study, an information-search task on a non-religious political issue is used to demonstrate that subjects prefer to read a greater number of arguments that are congruent with their prior attitudes on the issue, and this effect of prior attitudes on information-search behavior is found to be stronger among individuals who have rigid religious convictions. A scrambled-sentence task is used to prime half the subjects with religious concepts prior to completing the information-search task. This experiment demonstrates that increased salience of religious faith causes an increase in selective exposure to attitude-congruent political information.

Observational results: Religious faith and selective exposure

Experimental results: Religious faith and selective exposure

Full text: Cragun_religious_selective_exposure.pdf

Appendix: appendix_cragun_religious_selective_exposure.pdf

Raw data: data_cragun_religious_selective_exposure.csv

Recoded data: data_cragun_religious_selective_exposure.csv

Replication code: replication_code_cragun_religious_selective_exposure.R