Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Distinction Paper

Degree Name



Sociology, Criminology and Justice Studies


Leesa Kern

First Committee Member

Leesa Kern

Second Committee Member

Carla Corroto

Third Committee Member

Alicia Rich


Generation Z, Political Polarization, Social Learning Theory, Social Identity Theory, Limited Effects Theory, Social Media

Subject Categories

Higher Education | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology | Theory, Knowledge and Science


ABSTRACT With this study, I analyze the social media behaviors of ninety-four Generation Z Otterbein Students to evaluate the relationship between social media and political polarization. I distributed an online survey to ask about their social media practices, social media networks, and political identification to best identify aspects of political polarization present through how they used social media. Using Social Learning Theory, Social Identity Theory and Limited Effects Theory as theoretical bases for this work, I identified political polarization using three categories: hostility towards others because of politics, reinforcement of political ideology, and political identification. I find that the majority of participants supported these categories of political polarization as reported through their behaviors on social media and attitudes about those with countering political ideologies. Thus, social media has acted as an agent of socialization for members of Generation Z that is also correlated with idea and practice of more polarizing political ideology.

Licensing Permission

Copyright, all rights reserved. Fair Use