From echo chambers to ‘idea chambers’: Concurrent online interactions with similar and dissimilar others

Justin D. Martin*, George Anghelcev, Noor Abunabaa, Fouad Hassan, Sarah Shaath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Countering conventional theory, this study found that online homophily and heterophily—connectivity with both similar and dissimilar others—are not necessarily countervailing phenomena, among representative surveys of internet users from five Arab countries: Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Lebanon, Qatar, and UAE (N = 4,198). Respondents who said the Internet has increased their contact with politically and religiously similar people also tended to say it increased their contact with politically and religiously dissimilar people. A four-item scale measuring online political and religious homophily and heterophily was reliable (a =.754 overall;.79 among Arab nationals), and is referred to in this article as an ‘idea chamber’ index. Confirmatory Factor Analysis and inter-item correlations of scale items are two additional tests that affirm the internal consistency of the measure. Implications for research on digital communication are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Communication Gazette
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Echo chamber
  • homophily
  • idea chamber
  • political efficacy
  • public sphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

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