Populist attitudes and perceptions of public opinion and the media: A comparative correlational study between Spain and Colombia

Populism has experienced a worrying growth in the last decade in different locations around the world. This globalizing process has been enhanced by the immediacy, interaction, and participation of social networks, cyber media, and other digital platforms. In this context, the perception that young people give to this type of phenomena constitutes a field of study of great interest for the Social Sciences. This research examines the correlations between populist attitudes, perception of public opinion, and opinions about the media in students of Communication Sciences in Colombia and Spain. Methods: Based on an exploratory-correlational approach and a quantitative design, this research has analyzed the reflections and priorities of a group of n=499 undergraduate and graduate students related to Communication Sciences in Colombia and Spain. Results: The study has confirmed the leading role played by social networks in the formation of radical opinions while detecting a decline in the influence of television among young audiences. In addition, the study establishes that the index of public opinion perception is higher in Spain, while the index of media perception or anti-elitist attitudes is higher in Colombia, and there is no clear link between populist attitudes and a political ideology of extremes. Conclusions: The correlations examined note a tendency towards disaffection and discredit towards politics in general, especially by the young population, which affects actors and institutions. It alludes to the preference of this population group for interacting and informing themselves on digital platforms and presents populist attitudes, without clear ideological identification, but with a clear tendency towards simplification of messages, thus emphasizing the need to educate the critical view of citizens and to work on media literacy as a crucial strategy against the growth and expansion of populism.