Eike Mark Rinke, Patricia Moy, Maria Len-Ríos
Need for cognitive closure, listening styles, and political news consumption among Latinos in U.S. Election 2016

70th Annual Conference of the World Association for Public Opinion Research, Lisbon, July 15th to July 17th, 2017

Conducted against a backdrop of heightened political polarization, deep social cleavages, and cultural turmoil, the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign provides a rich opportunity for scholars to examine the political consequences of need for cognitive closure (NFC). At its core, NFC is a dispositional construct that reflects individuals’ need for a well-organized world and their desire to achieve and maintain firm knowledge while eliminating ambiguity (Kruglanski, 1990). Recent scholarship (conducted primarily in Europe; Authors, 2016) has identified NFC as a key concept that can supplement the Big Five personality traits in explaining citizens’ consumption of political information. Building upon this research, the goals of this study are twofold. Its first inherent goal is to replicate, among an American sample, the relationships that emerged between NFC, political interest, and consumption of political information. The study’s second, substantively oriented goal is to examine the extent to which NFC relates to information processing through specific listening styles (Bodie, Worthington, & Gearhart, 2013). Such styles reflect an individual’s general disposition to: (a) withhold judgment and consider all sides of an issue before responding (analytical listening); (b) listen to understand emotions and connect with others (relational listening); (c) focus on inconsistencies and errors during conversations (critical listening); and (d) see listening as a transaction aimed at solving concrete problems (task-oriented listening). More important, this study is interested in the extent to which both NFC and listening styles shape patterns – and effects – of information consumption. Political information, after all, is a mainstay of healthy democratic life. Methods. Data for this study come from a national online survey of U.S. Latinos (N=720) shortly after Election Day. An online consumer panel company, Qualtrics, fielded the survey December 7-17, 2016, with a quota sample that was evenly split by gender and included proportional representation of the largest groups of Latinos in the U.S. The NFC measure is a recently validated short scale of five Likert items (NFC-5; Authors, 2014): I enjoy having a clear and structured mode of life; I dislike unpredictable situations; I don’t like situations that are uncertain; I dislike questions which could be answered in many different ways; and I would quickly become impatient and irritated if I would not find a solution to a problem immediately. The eight items related to listening styles (Bodie et al., 2013, validated by Authors, 2014) were: When listening to others, I am mainly concerned with how they are feeling; I listen to understand the emotions and mood of the speaker; I wait until all the facts are presented before forming judgments and opinions; I fully listen to what a person has to say before forming any opinions; I am impatient with people who ramble on during conversations; I find it difficult to listen to people who take too long to get their ideas across; I often catch errors in other speakers’ logic; I tend to naturally notice errors in what other speakers’ say.