Does the Internet Make People Conservative? : Effects of the Internet on Citizens' Political Attitudes and Their Rational Basement

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 27 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Naoki SUDO, Department of Political Studies, Gakushuin University, Japan
This presentation aims to clarify the difference in political attitudes between respondents of an interview survey and those of a web survey, and to explain the mechanism that produces such differences. The internet is considered a new tool for organizing democratic movements; discourses on the internet, however, are often likely to generate new types of right-wing circles. In other words, the role of the internet as a political tool remains ambivalent. However, has the internet itself no effect on the political attitudes of citizens? In this presentation, I focus on the effects of the internet on political attitudes. Here I assume that people tend to manipulate their opinions so as to enable easy acceptance by target persons. Under this assumption, we can reasonably predict that a person slightly changes her/his political attitude depending on the target person (an interviewer in a case of an interview survey), and therefore respondents of a web survey are likely to be less cooperative than those of an interview survey. As a result, based on rational judgement concerning target persons, respondents of web surveys tend to not support social policies on equality. In order to test this hypothesis, I use data from SSP-I 2010 (interview survey in 2010, N=1,763) and SSP-W 2012 (web survey in 2012, N=2,839). Because these data sets have the same format for our target variables, the results are strictly comparable. After controlling for sample bias by using propensity score, I compared the political attitudes of the respondents of the interview and the web surveys. Results of the analyses show that respondents on web surveys tend to support neo-liberal opinions. This means that my hypothesis on the internet’s effect on the political attitudes of citizens can be supported by empirical data.