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Politics Schmolitics

Research conducted by: Michael Fish, Kyra Heatly, Brianna Whitney, and Mary Beth Shearn

Introduction

In our research study, we wanted to determine how Mizzou students find their political information and how they discuss it with their peers via social media. We interpreted this into four research questions that are answered via Mizzou student survey that was posted by each member of the research group. Based on past literature, the younger American audience heavily discusses politics via social media and our evidence supports this. The survey results are explained through pie charts and then followed by take away points of what we all learned from the results of the survey.  Our research questions determine where Mizzou students find their political information and how they discuss it with their peers via social media. What we narrowed down with one another and wanted to focus to find out more about was in our four research questions which are:

RQ1: What communication mediums do Mizzou students use to access political information? Such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

RQ2: Why are Mizzou students motivated to publicly post about politics?

RQ3: Do dissenting opinions of you personal political beliefs discussed face-to-face or on social media bring you discomfort?

RQ4: What classes at Mizzou engage Mizzou students to discuss politics more freequently/less often? Such as Political Science, History, Communications, etc

Increasing social media usage affects the perspectives we have on important issues in our life. People gather the information from a variety of news sources. It allows people to express themselves. Our culture is consumed with media. Looking down the line, say, 10 years from now, will show us how far we have come with social media. We wonder what it will be like even two years from now. It seems a little scary to think about.

The reason why these questions are what we found to be important and to focus on is because social media provides greater communication mediums for our age group, they increase the amount of knowledge we receive, and they increase the potential for us to engage in political discussion with our peers face-to-face. (Shirk, 2011, p 29)

Political information, especially in campaign seasons, is more readily accessible and shown on social media in an attempt to attract attention to a young audience, while advertising to older communities on television (Price, 2012).

Our IRB was approved the morning after Tim Wolfe’s resignation. Our Facebook feeds were flooded, so our first assumption of the survey. Second assumption would be increased motivations to post a dissenting perspective because of campus climate. We connected our findings with the ConcernedStudent1950 and looked at numerous social media sights that showed people expressing their opinions, updates with what was going on, etc.

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Methods

We began to find our results by creating a Qualtrics survey. Each member posted the survey for our political study via Facebook, via text, and word of mouth. We opened up the Qualtrics study on November 12, 2015 and had it remain open for 27 days. In all, 120 participants began the survey, but only 94 completed the survey. For survey results, we were pleased to find that our male to female ratio for who answered the survey was quite similar in that the percentage of males that took it was 46% and females that took it was at 54%. Therefore, the method of using the Qualtrics survey worked in our advantage, unlike other groups and we think this is because we asked people to take it using multiple outlets.

Results

 

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Some interesting points from the results we also found were there was relatively no gender bias in data. The amount of males that took the survey was 46% and the amount of females that took it was 54%. Now, this is only coming off of the 94 individuals that completed the survey of the 120 that actually started it. From this, and based on the trend of the two data sets, what we concluded is that it’s not far fetched to think that if the extra 26 people had completed the survey, that our results would correlate further and justify our present results.

Another interesting thing we found was that there was a somewhat evenly distributed political identity in the survey. The amount of Democrats and Republicans were relatively the same when it came to how much they posted, or how overt they were with talking about political issues and their own views.

Conclusion

We had missing data because not all participants completed the survey. Only 94 of the 120 completed the survey so this is where we can’t fully prove that our results are completely true, but the comparison of other data says it’s possible and that it is more accurate than not. Keeping the survey open accidently for an extra 3 days helped this.

We also had contradictions. A large number of participants stated they did not care for the discussion of politics on social media yet the majority of participants claimed that they would respond to initiated discussions. Our social media news feeds say otherwise. People said they didn’t post , or engage in political discussion, but we saw and see it everywhere. Self reporting social media use is wildly inaccurate of what we found. As past research has suggested, the younger generation, preferably millennials, will be discussing politics on social media further and further.

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