Attention to issues and facts
Assessing the role of need for orientation as a predictor of political news sharing on Facebook
Need for orientation (NFO) has long been accepted as an antecedent to agenda-setting effects. This study assessed whether NFO can go further to explain a specific behavior, why individuals share political news on Facebook. A new method is introduced that combines survey data with users’ Facebook accounts and their actual Facebook posts to reveal the historical news sharing behaviors of 741 U.S. citizens. Computer-assisted content analysis is employed to analyze nearly a million messages for the presence of political news content. Results suggest that a key component found in need for orientation – attention to relevant issues and facts – predicts observed political news sharing on Facebook. Other demographics such as age and gender also predict news sharing behavior. In all, the model employed here significantly predicts news sharing while commonly regarded antecedents to political sharing, including news consumption and political interest, fail to do so.
Keywords: Facebook, need for orientation, news sharing, politics, computational social science, social media
Published online: 25 September 2019
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