The Journal of Politics


Selective Exposure to Campaign Communication: The Role of Anticipated Agreement and Issue Public Membership

Shanto Iyengara1, Kyu S. Hahna2, Jon A. Krosnicka1 and John Walkera1

a1 Stanford University

a2 University of California, Los Angeles


This article explores two hypotheses about how voters encounter information during campaigns. According to the anticipated agreement hypothesis, people prefer to hear about candidates with whom they expect to agree. The “issue publics” hypothesis posits that voters choose to encounter information on issues they consider most important personally. We tested both hypotheses by distributing a multimedia CD offering extensive information about George W. Bush and Al Gore to a representative sample of registered voters with personal computers and home Internet connections during the closing weeks of the 2000 campaign. Exposure to information was measured by tracking individuals' use of the CD. The evidence provided strong support for the issue public hypothesis and partial support for the anticipated agreement hypothesis. Republicans and conservatives preferred to access information about George Bush, but Democrats and liberals did not prefer information about Vice President Gore. No interactions appeared between these two forms of selective exposure.

(Received April 20 2006)

(Accepted March 08 2007)


Shanto Iyengar is Harry & Norman Chandler professor of communication and professor of political science, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. Kyu S. Hahn is assistant professor of communication studies, University of California-Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095. Jon A. Krosnick is Frederic O. Glover professor in humanities and social sciences, professor of political science, and professor of communication, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. John Walker is technical director of political communication laboratory, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305.