Conflict Framing in the News Media and Political Discussion

Camilla Bjarnøe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
154 Downloads (Pure)


Though political discussion amongst citizens is central in democracy, little is known about what triggers informal political discussions and through which pathways. This article argues that citizens gain knowledge about politics when they are exposed to political conflict in the news media and that this may encourage them to participate more in political discussions conditioned by their orientation towards conflict due to potential interpersonal conflict. The indirect effect is argued to be larger on social media where behaviour is more uncivil than in face-to-face interactions. Based on a content analysis of news coverage and a three-wave panel survey (n = 2,049), exposure to conflict framing is found to have a positive effect on changes in discussion frequency across social settings. The effect is mediated by knowledge and subsequently moderated by conflict avoidance: conflict non-avoiders are more positively influenced than conflict avoiders. The indirect effect is larger in social media than in public and private settings. The wider societal implications of the results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Political Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to) 156-177
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


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