Anne Schäfer
Differential Learning in Communication Networks: Interpersonal Communication Moderating Influences of News Media Usage on Political Knowledge

International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 2015: 27, Heft 4, S. 509-543
ISSN: 0954-2892 (print); 1471-6909 (online)

This article explores how interpersonal political communication moderates the effect of news media usage on political knowledge; discussant heterogeneity, and expertise are further contingent factors. Using data from the Comparative National Elections Project, these interactive relationships are investigated in East and West Germany around the 1990 election in a comparative manner. The learning effects of media consumption are both reinforced and attenuated by frequent discussions: Reevaluating media content induces both clarity and confusion. And it is not simply that more interpersonal communication matters. Heterogeneous discussions (which provide information on the “other side” and contribute to a broad understanding of the political landscape) and political experts (who offer high-quality information) are most conductive to learning from media sources.