This study explores the navigation patterns of users reading hypertext-linked online news articles about a controversial issue. With the theoretical frameworks of selective exposure and cross-cutting exposure, the study examined the effects of individuals' attitudes on their navigation patterns and consequent attitude changes after the news exposure. We asked 130 participants to read positive or negative news articles about the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) by selecting six consecutive webpages. The results indicate that their attitudes toward the FTA was a significant predictor of their news selection, providing support for the selective exposure hypothesis. In terms of navigation patterns across the six news selection stages, the participants tended to select news articles that corresponded to their initial attitudes. The selection gap between participants with different attitudes increased until the fifth stage and ultimately converged. In terms of attitude change, the gap in the participants' attitudes decreased sharply after their navigation.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2010-330-B00293).