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The effect of traditional media consumption and internet use on environmental attitudes in Europe
2023, Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 33(2), pp.309-340
Mass media
Environmental attitudes
Voting behaviour
Information represents an essential input in social processes influencing human sentiment, attitudes, and behavior. With the rise of internet, information consumption habits have changed. The standard process of consuming news via traditional mass media (such as newspapers, radio and television) is now substituted, or complemented by news consumption via online sources. We study the effects of this behavioral change on environmental attitudes in Europe. More precisely, we ask whether this change has contributed to increased polarisation in environmental attitudes. We utilize a large-scale survey data across multiple European countries in the period from 2002 to 2010. We find evidence that traditional media (television, radio and newspapers) consumption, as well as internet use is associated with pro-environmental attitudes. Importantly, we also show that political preferences of an individual moderate the manner in which internet use is related to environmental attitudes. Among progressive and green voters, greater internet use is positively correlated with environmental attitudes. Among conservative voters, internet use appears to be negatively related to environmental attitudes. The pattern is similar, but much weaker, for TV consumption which constitutes a similar high-choice environment (compared to radio and newspapers). These results support the notion that internet use tends to strengthen people’s pre-existing beliefs (measured by voting behavior), much beyond the effect of TV viewership.
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