Eike Mark Rinke, Patricia Moy
Political information for closed minds: Effects of the need for cognitive closure on political interest and news consumption

66th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, Fukuoka, Japan, 09. bis 13. Juni 2016

Political information is a key ingredient of healthy democratic life, and one that in recent years has increasingly been studied from a personality perspective. Most studies in this domain have examined effects of basic dispositional traits (the Big Five) on citizens’ consumption of political information. In this paper, we step beyond this broad approach and examine the effect of a more directly relevant dispositional construct, the need for cognitive closure (NFC), on citizens’ political interest and news consumption. Using a new measure of NFC in two national surveys in Germany (2012) and Sweden (2014), we demonstrate that NFC has a strong and cross-nationally robust negative effect on people’s interest in politics which, in turn, depresses their overall consumption of political information. We also find that NFC has more strongly negative effects on the use of cognitively demanding media channels (online media and printed non-tabloid newspapers), while it has little or even positive consequences for the use of less cognitively demanding sources of political information (television, tabloid newspapers).