The benefits and burdens of network diversity: Political engagement on social networking sites

Weiai Wayne Xu, Michael A. Stefanone, Jian Raymond Rui


Previous research suggests that network diversity is associated with higher levels of political engagement due to enhanced political interest. However, network diversity may also constrain political engagement because politically heterogeneous networks are comprised of others with disparate attitudes and beliefs, which may inhibit communication about politics. The results from an online survey (N = 255) suggest that network diversity affords both benefits and burdens to users in terms of online political engagement. Specifically, political diversity is positively associated with political interest, and political interest predicts political engagement on SNSs. However, political diversity in online networks is also associated with increased self-censoring behaviors. Further, relational diversity has a negative relationship with self-censoring, and this relationship is most pronounced for people with stronger self-disclosure tendencies.


network diversity, social media, self-disclosure, political engagement

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