Document Type

Book Chapter

Version Deposited

Accepted for publication (PostPrint)

Publication Date


Publication Title

Informed Societies - Why Information Literacy Matters for Citizenship, Participation, and Democracy


This chapter explores the roles that affect, social identity and beliefs play in how people engage with information about politically- and emotionally-charged issues and the implications for information literacy education, particularly in politically polarized times. Considering research from cognitive psychology and education, I also suggest ways to move beyond traditional approaches to information literacy that tend to focus on logic and “objectivity” while neglecting the significance of personal beliefs and social identity to information behaviors. I give particular focus to philosopher Maureen Linker’s concept of "intellectual empathy" – “the cognitive-affective elements of thinking about identity and social difference” (Linker, 2014, 12). Intellectual empathy, I argue, is crucial for the kind of critically reflective information literacy that is especially needed in order to foster democratic dialogue and civic engagement in an increasingly diverse and global world.


This is a preprint of a chapter accepted for publication by Facet Publishing. This extract has been taken from the author’s original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive version of this piece may be found in Informed Societies – Why information literacy matters for citizenship, participation and democracy, edited by Stéphane Goldstein, Facet, London, ISBN 978-1-78330-391-5, which can be purchased from . The author agrees not to update the preprint or replace it with the published version of the chapter.