I recall there is a word for the phenomenon that people listen mainly to sources confirming their point of view. For example, some people will listen to Fox News whereas others will watch Democracy!Now. I recall seeing an eponymous law to describe this phenomenon.

What is this phenomenon called?


6 Answers 6


Confirmation bias:

Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs.

As the above summary states, media selection is only a part of confirmation bias.

In the modern age, confirmation bias tends to get reinforced by the filter bubble.

  • Hm, but I think confirmation bias is broader than what I'm after.
    – gerrit
    Jun 8, 2014 at 4:32
  • What I'm after is more specifically political. Confirmation bias can be for anything...
    – gerrit
    Jun 8, 2014 at 4:44

I think you may be referring to the self-reference effect:

The self-reference effect is a tendency for people to encode information differently depending on the level on which the self is implicated in the information. When people are asked to remember information when it is related in some way to the self the recall rate can be improved.

The overall concept of self-reference suggests that people interpret incoming information in relation to themselves, using their self-concept as a background for new information and this can be applied to all fields of knowledge and perceptions.


What you are describing is specifically known as Selective Exposure.

There is a fairly well known description of selective exposure driven into the realm of cognitive dissonance known as Festinger's Theory which was the work of Leon Festinger but I doubt he is the one you are looking for.

There is an unrelated theory on selective exposure known created by Joseph Klapper that specifically dealt with the effects of mass communication. General selective exposure, general selective perception, and general selective retention are the three observations of humanity made in Klapper's theoretical works. According to Klapper, people are not influenced by mass communication. They filter out as noise any mass communication that does not confirm some already held bias and receive mass communication that does.

It is called Klapper's Selective Exposure I believe that is the droid you are looking for.

  • I think Selective Exposure is the closest concept to what the OP wants: a name for people who statically listen to sources of information that reiterate what they already believe. They never entertain other sources of information. Confirmation bias has more to do with what happens when all viewpoints are available at the same time. In this case, the listener makes sure only Fox News or Democracy!Now is available and forsakes all others.
    – Snapman
    Mar 19, 2019 at 20:00

The phrase I have always used is echo chamber.

I suppose if you need a single word you could always use echochamber. :)

  • This is the one I've heard specifically for politics.
    – trlkly
    Jul 31, 2014 at 5:32
  • Can you provide any references?
    – bib
    Aug 3, 2014 at 2:35
  • Yup, echo chamber is the (best) answer.
    – Drew
    Aug 3, 2014 at 3:30

On a slight tangent, this phrase seems related:

When your only tool is hammer, all your problems look like nails.


I think the response of Confirmation bias is apt. You might also call this phenomenon a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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