Perceptions of bias in an impartial media have been consistently documented among partisan audiences. It is argued that this phenomenon is grounded in the processes associated with a group identity that evoke cognitive differentiation between the in-group and the out-group and motivate in-group bias. Bosnian Serb and Muslim partisans and a group of nonpartisan controls responded to media coverage of the 1994 Sarajevo market bombing. Results indicated a strong hostile media effect. This effect was associated with in-group identification and cognitive differentiation between groups, the latter of which appeared to mediate the effect of identification. The extent to which the hostile media effect is a mechanism for enhancing a positive and distinct in-group identity was further supported by self-serving perceptions concerning which group was responsible for the bombing. It was suggested that the hostile media phenomenon reflects a form of in-group bias.

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Keywords cognitive differentiation, group identification, hostile media phenomenon
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Journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations
Matheson, K, & Dursun, S. (Sanela). (2001). Social Identity Precursors to the Hostile Media Phenomenon: Partisan Perceptions of Coverage of the Bosnian Conflict. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 4(2), 116–125. doi:10.1177/1368430201004002003