The Effect of Being Conflict Non-Avoidant: Linking Conflict Framing and Political Participation

Camilla Bjarnøe*, Claes Holger de Vreese, Erik Albæk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The news media’s ability to mobilise citizens to participate politically by emphasising elite conflict in politics is not well understood. This article argues that citizens may gain knowledge when exposed to conflict news framing. It further theorises that whether they translate their knowledge into political participation is conditioned by their orientation towards conflict. Individuals who avoid conflict participate less frequently than individuals who do not. The proposed moderated mediation process was tested using a content analysis of news media coverage and a three-wave panel survey (n = 2,061). Results show that the effect of exposure to conflict news framing on (changes in) political participation is positively mediated by knowledge. This mediation effect is moderated by conflict avoidance, where the effect is more positive among conflict non-avoiders than conflict avoiders. This study shows that understanding the news media’s mobilising effect on political participation requires attention to both news content and individual motivational factors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWest European Politics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)102-128
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Conflict framing
  • conflict avoidance
  • knowledge
  • media exposure
  • motivational factors
  • political participation


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