Sunday, May 9

Left- and Right-leaning Students Trade Media Articles and Political Beliefs

Dan Stone, Michael Franz, David Francis

Professors Dan Stone Michael Franz, and Senior Interactive Developer David Francis, who helped Stone develop Media Trades.

The Bowdoin participants are taking Professor of Government Michael Franz’s Quantitative Analysis in Political Science course this semester. While Franz does not teach media politics in this class, he said he signed his class up for Media Trades experiment because he is teaching research design and data collection in the social sciences.

“Social science is messy, and studying the attitudes and behaviors of individuals is a challenge,” he said. “I thought students could see this in practice by becoming participants in a social science project.”

Franz added that students seemed to enjoy the experience, and “saw first-hand what it’s like to study—and collect data about—something as complicated as polarization and media politics.”

Indeed, based on post-experiment surveys, Clemson students, in both semesters, enjoyed making the trades more than they expected. At the same time, “Bowdoin students expected to enjoy them and did,” according to Stone.

In feedback submitted anonymously by participants, one reported: “This was an awesome experience to connect with other people about things that go on in our country.” Another wrote: “I appreciate the opportunity to work with people ‘across the aisle.'”

A few, however, remained somewhat skeptical. One stated the suspicion, “I enjoyed reading the articles but felt that the person in my first trade didn’t even try to understand the argument made in the article I posted.”

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