The Effects of Religious Commitment on Media Perception and the Acquisition of Political Information by Benjamin Gaskins
Date: 3:30pm - 5:00pm PDT November 8, 2013 PST Location: JRHH 203
Scholars have shown that religious involvement can prepare individuals for civic activity by endowing them with the skills and motivation to engage in politics. Others, however, assert that religious dogmatism may lead to disengagement with the secular world and politics more generally. These two perspectives have resulted in contradictory findings on a key aspect of civic ability: political knowledge. I argue that while religiosity may indeed increase individuals’ engagement in a wide array of political activities, religious commitment decreases the ability to acquire accurate information about certain types of political facts. This argument is tested with a number of national surveys, and I find that while religion has a non-negative effect on knowledge of general political structures and figures, it increases the perception of media hostility, which leads to lower levels of political knowledge about policy-specific and surveillance information.