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Arendt, Florian; Northup, Temple and Camaj, Lindita (July 2017): Selective exposure and news media brands. Implicit and explicit attitudes as predictors of news choice. In: Media Psychology

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Media consumers often lack the motivation, time, or cognitive capacity to select content in a deliberate way; instead, they opt for mental shortcuts. Brands are important in this regard because they simplify decision making. In the present study we investigated whether attitudes toward news media brands predict news choice. It is important that we conceptualized attitudes on two different levels: Although explicit attitudes are defined as overtly expressed, more or less deliberate evaluations, implicit attitudes are defined as automatically activated, gut-level evaluations. The supplementary use of implicit attitudes is consistent with current theorizing highlighting that deeply held and sometimes even unconscious evaluations influence media choice. Using a web-based study, we found that implicit and explicit attitudes toward television brands predicted choice. Each attitude construct predicted variance beyond that predicted by the other. We discuss implications by emphasizing the role of automatic, gut-level decision making in current high-choice media environments.

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