First Advisor

Lee Shaker

Date of Publication

Summer 8-14-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication






Public opinion, Political parties -- United States, Communication in politics -- United States



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 59 pages)


The theory of motivated reasoning predicts that partisan cues in the media will affect political attitudes, by encouraging individuals to align their views with those of their party's elites. The effect has primarily been tested by looking at issues which have pre-established partisan positions (e.g. immigration reform, gay rights, etc.). This study looks at the effects of partisan cues in the media on attitudes toward a non-partisan issue, the NSA's collection of American's meta-data. Additionally, the study extends research on partisan cues by exploring the moderating role of an individual's political communication network and, specifically, exposure to cross-cutting political communication. Findings are mixed: although there was no main effect of exposure to partisan cues in general, strong partisans were more affected by exposure to partisan cues than weak partisans. Additionally, although frequency of political discussion was not found to moderate the effect of partisan cues, individuals with high exposure to cross-cutting communication were significantly less affected by partisan cues than those with low exposure to cross-cutting communication. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.


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