Over the past decade, various online communication platforms have empowered citizens to express themselves politically. Although the political impact of online citizen expression has drawn considerable attention, research has largely focused on whether and how citizen-generated messages influence the public as an information alternative to traditional news outlets. The present study aims to provide a new perspective on understanding citizen expression by examining its political implications for the expressers themselves rather than those exposed to the expressed ideas. Data from a national survey and an online discussion forum study suggest that expressing oneself about politics provides self-reinforcing feedback. Political expressions on social media and the online forum were found to (a) reinforce the expressers’ partisan thought process and (b) harden their pre-existing political preferences. Implications for the role the Internet plays in democracy will be discussed.
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© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.
- expression effects
- political expression
- social media