Abstract: This study investigated the effects of message and social cues on selective exposure to political information in a social media environment. Based on the heuristic-systematic model, it was hypothesized that readers’ selective consideration of specific cues can be explained by situational motivations. In an experiment (N = 137), subjects primed with motivational goals (accuracy, defense, or impression motivations, as well as a control group) were asked to search for information. Participants preferred attitude-consistent information and balanced information over attitude-inconsistent information, and also preferred highly recommended articles. Defense-motivated partisans exhibited a stronger confirmation bias, while impression motivation amplified the effects of social recommendations. These findings specify the conditions under which individuals engage in narrow, open-minded, or social patterns of information selection.
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