A Self-Categorization Explanation for the Hostile Media Effect

Reid, Scott A.
June 2012
Journal of Communication;Jun2012, Vol. 62 Issue 3, p381
Academic Journal
The hostile media effect is a phenomenon in which partisans on both sides of an issue perceive neutral media reports to be biased against their side. Three experiments were performed to test a self-categorization explanation. In Experiment 1, the effect was amplified when partisan identity was salient and attenuated when a shared identity was salient. In Experiment 2, the effect manifested when the media source was an outgroup, but not an ingroup. In Experiment 3, an attack on Democrats was perceived as less biased when attributed to a Democrat than when attributed to a Republican. The effects in Experiments 2 and 3 were amplified by partisanship. The findings are consistent with self-categorization theory and difficult to reconcile with other explanations.


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