What influences our opinions about politics in America? Also how has where Americans get their information changed the way they think about the government and politics?

Quick answer:

Our opinions and political beliefs are influenced by families, friends, traditional and social media, popular culture, and advertising. Media has become more insulated, with people using more polarized sources.

Expert Answers

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Many different elements shape the political beliefs of Americans. These influences include everything from personality to advertising and social media to parents and schooling.

According to an article published in Scientific American, personality can affect political beliefs. Conservatives tending to be more anxious and more affected by repellent images than liberals.

Many aspects of one's background and socioeconomic status affect political beliefs. People's political beliefs are strongly influenced by their parents, with people often following parental beliefs. Gender influences political beliefs with women tending to be more liberal than men. Educational level is an important factor in determining political beliefs, with higher educational levels correlating with more liberal political beliefs. Race is also important; African-Americans tend to vote overwhelmingly for Democrats while Caucasians are more split between the parties. Older adults tend to be more conservative than younger ones.

Media outlets are an important influence on political beliefs. This was especially the case in the twentieth century when people derived news from a limited number of media outlets. As media outlets have proliferated, people have become more likely to exist in media bubbles, only consuming information that supports pre-existing beliefs. Especially for younger adults, social media has become an increasingly important source of political opinions. Social media and peer groups can result in people living in media bubbles, deepening the separation between different political parties and positions.

Advertising and popular culture such as music, films, and videos also inform political opinion. Although media has become far more diverse over the past few decades, mass media can lead to people thinking in stereotypes and only discovering the issues which are widely covered or viral.

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