Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Thesis


Mass media--Objectivity--Public opinion--United States;


The hostile media effect refers to individuals’ tendencies to perceive seemingly neutral news coverage as biased against their stance (Vallone et al., 1985). Research has shown this effect in partisan politics, with liberals and conservatives perceiving bias in information presented from the opposing side. The current study examined the effects of liberal or conservative and small or large audience news source manipulations on liberals’ and conservatives’ perceptions of media bias and the relationship between partisan identity and perceptions of bias. Three hundred and sixty participants read a news article presented with either a Fox News, CNN, PatriotNewsDaily, or The Progressive news heading and completed a questionnaire assessing perceptions of article bias, article quality, and their agreement with the article’s content. I hypothesized that liberals and conservatives would perceive hostile media bias when reading an article with an opposing source heading and that the effect would be greater when participants were presented with the high-reach source headings (i.e., Fox News, CNN). Liberals and conservatives did not perceive the article to be biased against their stance based on the political stance of the news source or its perceived reach. They also did not differ in their article quality ratings and ratings of agreement with the article’s content depending on the news source or perceived reach. Exploratory correlations between partisan identity article bias, article quality, and agreement with the article’s content showed small correlations overall. Individuals may be less inclined to focus as much on the source of information in a society increasingly centered on sharing of content on social media. They also may focus less on a source’s political stance and more on the article content itself. This research highlights the effects of the way news outlets present their content as well as an individual’s biased interpretations of the news they are receiving.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Department of Psychology

First Advisor

Helen Harton, Chair, Thesis Committee

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ix, 86 pages)



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