Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America
Visiting Speaker
Past Event
Jamie Settle
William & Mary
Oct 2, 2019
Watch video
12:00 pm
177 Huntington Ave
11th floor

Why do Americans have such animosity for people who identify with the opposing political party? In this book, the author argues that in the context of increasing partisan polarization among American political elites, the way we communicate on Facebook uniquely facilitates psychological polarization among the American public. Frenemies introduces the END Framework of social media interaction. END refers to a subset of content that circulates in a social media ecosystem: a personalized, quantified blend of politically informative expression, news, and discussion seamlessly interwoven into a wider variety of socially informative content. Scrolling through the News Feed triggers a cascade of processes that result in negative attitudes about those who disagree with us politically. The inherent features of Facebook, paired with the norms of how people use the site, heighten awareness of political identity, bias the inferences people make about others’ political views, and foster stereotyped evaluations of the political out-group.

About the speaker
Jaime Settle is the David and Carolyn Wakefield Term Associate Professor of Government at the College of William & Mary. She is a scholar of American political behavior with expertise in the fields of political psychology and communication. Settle’s research focuses on how political interactions—in both face-to-face and online contexts—affect the way individuals perceive conflict in their environment, evaluate other people, and engage within the political system. She integrates tools from other disciplines—such as behavior genetics, psychophysiology, and data science—to inform our approach in understanding key questions within political science. Settle has published 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts or chapters in venues such as Nature, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics. In 2018, her first book Frenemies: How Facebook Polarizes America was published by Cambridge University Press and won a best book award from the Experiments in Politics section and an honorable mention from the Political Networks section of the American Political Science Association. She serves on the board of the American National Election Study and is an associate editor at the Journal of Experimental Political Science. Settle received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Richmond and her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California at San Diego. She is the director of the Social Networks and Political Psychology Lab and co-director of the Social Science Research Methods Center.

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