Personality Filters for Online News Interest and Engagement

Open access

Abstract

Our many online routines leave behind trails of data about our identities, habits, preferences and connections. These data serve as filters when we seek out information, yielding relevant results and content of interest. However, commercial and political parties can use the same data to personalize persuasive messages, and some even use psychological profiles to target individuals. With this revelation come concerns that news can be framed to appeal to individual personalities.

This study investigates the relationship between personality and news engagement among predominantly young Norwegian adults across different news angles. It addresses the Big Five personality traits as well as rational and experiential information-processing styles. The results provide support for our hypothesis on the relation between neuroticism and lowered news engagement, although the effect sizes are small. When exploring isolated news stories, we find greater differentiation among the participants, suggesting that individuals’ news interest really does start at the headline.

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