Digital literacy and online political behavior

Andrew M. Guess, Kevin Munger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Digital literacy is receiving increased scholarly attention as a potential explanatory factor in the spread of misinformation and other online pathologies. As a concept, however, it remains surprisingly elusive, with little consensus on definitions or measures. We provide a digital literacy framework for political scientists and test survey items to measure it with an application to online information retrieval tasks. There exists substantial variation in levels of digital literacy in the population, which we show is correlated with age and could confound observed relationships. However, this is obscured by researchers' reliance on online convenience samples that select for people with computer and internet skills. We discuss the implications of these measurement and sample selection considerations for effect heterogeneity in studies of online political behavior. We argue that there is no universally applicable formula for selecting a given non-probability sample or operationalization of the concept of digital literacy; instead, we conclude, researchers should make theoretically informed arguments about how they select both sample and measure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-128
Number of pages19
JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 22 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

Keywords

  • Data collection
  • digital literacy
  • information retrieval
  • survey measurement

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