Hostile media effect
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Hostile media effect. Defining hostile media effect. People’s tendency to perceive neutral news coverage as one-sided and unfair in favor of their opposing side (HME). . Defining Hostile Media Effect.

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Hostile media effect

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Hostile media effect

Defining hostile media effect

  • People’s tendency to perceive neutral news coverage as one-sided and unfair in favor of their opposing side (HME).

Defining Hostile Media Effect

  • When we talk about people then we usually refer to partisans that believe in a particular idea or cause

Defining Hostile Media Effect

  • Assimilation bias

  • the tendency to find information supportive rather than opposed to ones owns on position but also to dismiss unfavorable content as unreliable

Defining Hostile Media Effect

  • Third-Person-Effect (TPE)

    • A person exposed to a media message (possibly persuasive in nature) would see a greater effect on others than on himself or herself.

The people initiating the research

  • Vallone, Ross & Lepper - HME

  • Lord, Ross, and Lepper– Assimilation Bias

  • Davison – Third Person Effect

Why is it important?

  • The perception of media bias affects two fundamental features that characterize the relationship between the public and the media: the public’s trust and the media’s influence.

Why is it important?

  • People who are susceptible to HME view media content as unfair and inaccurate. This undermines trust in the media.

  • which in turn could correlate with a decrease in the media’s influence.

The Hostile Media Phenomenon: Biased Perception and Perceptions of Media Bias in Coverage of the Beirut Massacre.Vallone, Ross & Lepper (1985)

  • Stimulus materials: videotaped segments devoted to the Beirut Massacre in 1982. (Palestinian and Lebanese vs. Israeli)

  • Procedure: participants completed a questionnaire designed to elicit their perceptions of the fairness and objectivity of the news programs.


  • Each side of the participants saw the news segments as biased in favor of the other side.

    More specifically, pro-Israeli subjects saw the news programs as “applying higher standards to Israel” as compared to pro-Arab ones who believed that the media were “applying lower standards to Israel.”


  • Two underlying mechanism:

  • Differing evaluation: partisans see the claims associated with their viewpoints as more credible and accurate than the opposing viewpoints. The opposing view is seen as “inferior.”

  • Differing recollection: They perceived a different stimulus with different content and emphasis.


  • Partisans on both sides believed that this overall sample of news coverage would lead undecided or ambivalent viewers to become more hostile to the side that the partisans personally favored

  • Subjects with more knowledge/emotional involvement are more inclined to view the media as bias against them.

Christen, C., P. Kannaovakun, et al. (2002). "Hostile Media Perceptions: Partisan Assessments of Press and Public During the 1997 United Parcel Service Strike."

  • Persuasive press inference (remember TPE): people may infer public opinion from their perceptions of the slant of media coverage and their assumptions that such coverage has a substantial impact on others.

  • False consensus/Projection: others. The tendency of individuals to see their own opinions and behaviors as relatively common while viewing alternative opinions and behaviors as uncommon.

Why does the Hostile Media Effect exist?

  • Research has not found a definitive answer yet

  • One explanation is

    • perceived reach of information

    • Mainstream media vs. smaller outlets

Media bias

  • Is the tendency of journalists to select a certain type of events and stories to report on and then to cover/ frame them in a certain way.


  • Selectivity leads to

    • Inability to report “all the important and relevant facts of the story

    • Loss of media neutrality


  • Themes:

    • Support or attack of a certain political figure

    • Favoring advertisers

    • Favoring corporations (NBC and GE)

    • Sensationalism

    • Gender + sexual orientation

    • Religion

    • Age etc


  • Good question!

    • Sometimes the coverage and selection reflects journalists attitudes and believes

    • The newsroom setting or media outlet can set the tone (MSNBC & Fox News)


  • Horse race journalism

  • Talking heads

  • Experts over layman

  • Press conferences

  • Over extended coverage

Other topics

  • Covering natural disasters

  • Accidents, death

  • Animals

  • Babies

  • Sex

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