East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

May 3, Haifeng Huang, “Information from Abroad: Foreign Media, Selective Exposure, and Political Support in China”


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society presents


 “Information from Abroad: Foreign Media, Selective Exposure, and Political Support in China”

Haifeng Huang

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of California, Merced

4:30-6:00p.m., Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.



What kind of content do citizens in a developing and authoritarian country like to acquire from Western free media? What are the effects of their potentially selective exposure? Through a novel survey experiment with 1200 Chinese Internet users from diverse sociodemographic backgrounds, we find that Chinese citizens with higher pro-Western orientations and lower regime evaluations are more inclined to read content that is positive about foreign countries and/or negative about China. More importantly, because reputable Western media’s reports are generally more balanced and realistic than overly rosy information about foreign countries that popularly circulates in China, reading positive (but realistic) foreign media content about foreign countries improves rather than worsens the domestic evaluations of citizens who self-select such content. Consequently, foreign media may enhance regime stability in an authoritarian country by making regime critics less critical (censorship of foreign media, on the other hand, may backfire). Along the way the article also introduces an innovative experimental procedure that integrates self-selection and random assignment of treatments in a way useful for studies of information effects.


Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

Student coordinator: Yan Xu (xuyan@uchicago.edu)

Faculty sponsors: Xi Song, Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao


This presentation is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences and Center for East Asian Studies. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

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