Name (affiliation): Nicolas M. Anspach (York College of Pennsylvania)

Paper title: The Inadvertent Audience: How Online Peer Influence Mitigates Selective Exposure

Co-authors (if any): –

Publication reference (if any; APA 6th): Under review 

Q: What should people remember from your paper? (Please give the one main finding and/or take-home message of your research.)

A: I find that online endorsements and discussions serve as heuristics when deciding which content to consume, outweighing partisan selectivity. This effect is only significant when the activity comes from friends or family members; social influence attributed to fictional individuals does not serve as a heuristic. My hope is that this finding will bridge the gap between the theoretical expectations of behaviors associated with social media and the null results usually reported in social media studies that use fictional or unfamiliar users to post political content.

Q: Back when you presented your award-winning paper, was it part of a coherent session? Did the papers talk to each other? In which ways? What were the concerns shared by the papers?

A: Many of the papers presented at our session investigated the intersection of politics and social media – whether it was polarization, learning, or selectivity. Much of the discussion centered on the difficulty of collecting quality data from social media without access to the back end of Facebook. Lab experiments give us some insight, but how well they can generalize to the real world is still a question for debate.

Q: Did you see fascinating/innovative/inspiring presentations at this year’s conference in Philadelphia? What about them struck you as outstanding? (Please give your general impression and perhaps focus on one specific paper that stood out for you.)

A: –

Q: I will always remember the conference in Philadelphia because…

A: I attended grad school in Philadelphia, so it was nice to finally show off our city to my colleagues from out of town.

2016 APSA Timothy Cook Best Graduate Student Paper Award