Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Politics and International Relations

Reader 1

David Andrews

Reader 2

Vanessa Tyson

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.


This paper investigates the possible correlation between modes of news consumption and political polarization in America. Operating under the hypothesis that reading the news has an ideologically moderating effect compared to watching or listening to the news, a survey was conducted on 41 college students in the Fall of 2020. Although there was both theoretical and statistical evidence that there is a correlation between news consumption habits and media preference as they relate to increased polarization, it was not substantial enough to conclude that specific modes of news media cause predictable ideological effects. In fact, the results of the survey contrarily suggest that the vehicle of the news was less important than the associations of the vehicle. That is, increased news consumption based on identity-activating sources such as curated social media or targeted cable news seemed to have more of an effect on ideological polarization than whether somebody more often read or watched their news. The paper concludes that due to the more interactive method of contemporary news consumption, it is possible that increased personal engagement acts as a polarizing force rather than a moderating one. Suggested remedies for extreme political polarization include limited frequency of consuming news media and increased diversification of mode, source, and content.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.