Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Political Science

First Advisor

Jennifer Wolak

Second Advisor

E. Scott Adler

Third Advisor

Joel Swanson


It’s no secret that the world is quickly shifting from the nightly news and the daily paper to a 24/7 rapid-response information environment driven by smartphones and other personal computing devices. Also readily apparent is the hyper-partisanship that has come to mire America’s legislative process. This paper will explore the connection between the two phenomena by reviewing a mix of academic and popular literature and conducting an original experiment to arrive at a better understanding of how Internet-mediated communication technologies drive political opinions at the individual level. Specifically, statistical analyses are performed to parse out the differences between being presented with information in the form of tweets and being presented with information in the form of an article. While the findings suggest that there is no significant difference between tweets and articles in terms of issue polarization, a closer inspection reveals that formatting coupled with ideologically filtered points-of-view has implications for learning about, becoming interested in, and engaging with hot-button political issues.