A7 – Rush, Rachel, and Rx: Modeling Partisan Media’s Influence on Structural Knowledge of Healthcare Policy

DOI: 10.1080/15205436.2014.902968

Citation: Hutchens, M. J., Hmielowski, J. D. & Beam, M. A. (2015). Rush, Rachel, and Rx: Modeling partisan media’s influence on structural knowledge of healthcare policy. Mass Communication & Society, 18(2), 123-143.


Examining the impact of various media sources on knowledge has a long tradition in political communication. While much of the extant research focuses on the impact of traditional media on factual knowledge, research is expanding to include a variety of media sources and multiple dimensions of knowledge, in addition to understanding processes that better explain these relationships. Using a nationwide, opt-in online survey (n = 993), we examine the relationship between partisan media and structural knowledge, which assess how interconnected people see political concepts. Utilizing understanding of the Affordable Care Act as the content area of interest, we examine whether or not exposure to partisan media has differential effects on attitudinal ambivalence – holding both positive and negative attitudes towards an object – based on the political ideology of the respondent, and whether or not this impact of ambivalence influenced structural knowledge. Our results show that exposure to attitude-consistent media decreased attitudinal ambivalence. This exposure to attitude-consistent media results in a positive indirect effect on structural knowledge through this decrease in ambivalence. We find the reverse effect for use of attitude-inconsistent media.