Age, gender, personality, ideological attitudes and individual differences in a person's news spectrum: how many and who might be prone to "filter bubbles" and "echo chambers" online?

Heliyon. 2020 Jan 17;6(1):e03214. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2020.e03214. eCollection 2020 Jan.


Potential effects of demographics, personality, and ideological attitudes on the number of news sources consumed should be investigated. The number of news sources consumed, in turn, was seen as inverse proxy for the susceptibility to be caught in "filter bubbles" and/or "echo chambers" (online), which are hotly discussed topics also in politics. A sample of 1,681 (n = 557 males) participants provided data on demographics, the Big Five as well as Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) alongside the number of different news sources consumed and current voting preferences. Results showed that age (positively), gender (higher in males), Openness (positively), and RWA (negatively) predicted the number of different news sources consumed. The group of participants consuming news exclusively offline showed highest scores in Conscientiousness and lowest scores in Neuroticism compared to the "news feeds only" and the "news feeds and online" groups. However, less than 5% of the participants exclusively consumed news via news feeds of social networking sites. Participants who stated that they would not vote reported the lowest number of different news sources consumed. These findings reveal first insights into predisposing factors for the susceptibility to be caught in "filter bubbles" and/or "echo chamber" online and how this might be associated with voting preferences.

Keywords: Big Five; Digital media; Echo chamber; Filter bubble; Individual differences; Media psychology; News spectrum; Political behavior; Political science; Psychology; RWA.

Publication types

  • News