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Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age$
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Alberto Acerbi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198835943

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198835943.001.0001

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Echo chambers

Echo chambers

(p.96) 5 Echo chambers
Cultural Evolution in the Digital Age

Alberto Acerbi

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, the focus is on the phenomenon of online echo chambers, trying an evaluation from the broad perspective of cultural evolution. It has been noted that individuals associate on social media in communities of like-minded people, where they are repeatedly exposed to the same kind of information and, even more importantly, they are not exposed to contrary information. How strong are echo chambers? What are their effects on the flow of online information? Although the formation and existence of echo chambers is consistent with the cognitive and evolutionary approach defended here, individuals are exposed online to a considerable amount of contrary opinions: in fact, against current common sense, to more diverse opinions than what happens in their offline life. As a consequence, the increase of polarization, which many link to a more informationally segregated society, could also have been overestimated, or, in any case, may be due to motifs other than our social media activity.

Keywords:   echo chambers, polarization, myside bias, conspiracy theories, social media, depolarization

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