October 17, 2023
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
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$29.95 USD
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How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation

An engaging look at how American politics and media reinforce partisan identity and threaten democracy.

Why are so many of us wrong about so much? From COVID-19 to climate change to the results of elections, millions of Americans believe things that are simply not true—and act based on these misperceptions. In Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation, media and political psychologist Dannagal Goldthwaite Young offers a comprehensive model that illustrates how political leaders and media organizations capitalize on our social and cultural identities to separate, enrage, and—ultimately—mobilize us. Through a process of identity distillation encouraged by public officials, journalists, political and social media, Americans' political identities—how we think of ourselves as members of our political team—drive our belief in and demand for misinformation. It turns out that if being wrong allows us to comprehend the world, have control over it, or connect with our community, all in ways that serve our political team, then we don't want to be right.

Over the past 40 years, lawmakers in America's two major political parties have become more extreme in their positions on ideological issues. Voters from the two parties have become increasingly distinct and hostile to one another along the lines of race, religion, geography, and culture. In the process, these political identities have transformed into a useful but reductive label tied to what we look like, who we worship, where we live, and what we believe.

Young offers a road map out of this chaotic morass, including demand-side solutions that reduce the bifurcation of American society and increase our information ecosystem's accountability to empirical facts. By understanding the dynamics that encourage identity distillation, Wrong explains how to reverse this dangerous trend and strengthen American democracy in the process.

About the Author

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young (HADDON TOWNSHIP, NJ) is a professor of communication and political science at the University of Delaware. Young is an award-winning scholar and teacher, a TED speaker, an improvisational comedian, and the author of Irony and Outrage: The Polarized Landscape of Rage, Fear, and Laughter in the United States.


"Anchored by Young's magisterial and powerful writing, Wrong lays out a social and psychological framework to help us see through our own needs-based biases, engage in reflexivity, and understand how and why we are wrong. In the process, we can hopefully reduce the incentives we provide to other actors in the process–such as media and politicians–and ultimately find our way to a less toxic political culture."

- Daniel Kreiss, University of North Carolina, author of Prototype Politics: Technology-Intensive Campaigning and the Data of Democracy

"Powerful, distinctive, and utterly compelling, Wrong argues that the way we satisfy our needs for comprehension, control, and community are shaped by our social identities, which are at the core of both the supply and demand for misinformation. Because politicians and the media know this fact, they behave strategically in order to structure politics through this perspective. This book is sorely needed, and Young's argument is truly central to our understanding of today's misinformation problem."

- Jaime Settle, College of William & Mary, author of Frenemies: How Social Media Polarizes America
Johns Hopkins University Press
From 17

9781421447759 : wrong-young
October 17, 2023
$29.95 USD

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