Government Systems: Democracy

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What influences our opinions about politics?

There are many factors that influence political opinions. They include the way people are raised and the friends they make, as children and as adults. Whether or not a person goes to college is another important aspect in how people form their political opinions. Most recently, where a person gets their news has emerged as perhaps the most important ingredient in how people make political decisions.

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A variety of ways influence the formation of political opinions. In some ways, people’s opinions are formed without them even knowing it; much like genetic factors, there is no control over the environment people grow up in, so it makes a substantial difference in what kind of household a person...

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A variety of ways influence the formation of political opinions. In some ways, people’s opinions are formed without them even knowing it; much like genetic factors, there is no control over the environment people grow up in, so it makes a substantial difference in what kind of household a person was raised.

Once out of the house, political opinions do keep forming, of course, and whether a person attends and/or graduates from college is a significant factor. Free from family influences for the first time in their lives, people can escape points of view they didn’t agree with. Political changes from different family influence are augmented by education or by a new group of friends. Often people don’t fully change, but college can be a catalyst for such a makeover.

As people get older, while effects such as one’s upbringing and college education or lack thereof remain important, what comes to matter more is where a person gets their news. Although bias has long been a staple of the news industry, the rapidity, stress, and competition of the 24-hour news cycle has exacerbated the problem. As the various factions fight for limited revenue streams, the views presented narrow even further.

It is still possible to obtain news that is unbiased, but in general people seek out a source of news based on what they already think. Most do not search for new information or more diverse viewpoints. Thus, rather than having much influence on the creation of new political opinions, where people get their news tends to amplify existing ones.

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