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Hate Speech as an Indicator for the State of the Society - Effects of Hateful User Comments on Perceived Social Dynamics

Empirische Studien
Grundlagen und Begriffseinordnung
Psychologische Aspekte
Svenja Schäfer, Michael Sülflow und Liane Reiners
13 Seiten

Previous research indicates that user comments serve as exemplars and thus have an effect on perceived public opinion. Moreover, they also shape the attitudes of their readers. However, studies almost exclusively focus on controversial issues if they explore the consequences of user comments for attitudes and perceived public opinion. The current study wants to find out if hate speech attacking social groups due to characteristics such as religion or sexual orientation also has an effect on the way people think about these groups and how they think society perceives them. Moreover, we also investigated the effects of hate speech on prejudiced attitudes. To explore the hypotheses and research questions, we preregistered and conducted a 3 × 2 experimental study varying the amount of hate speech (none/few/many hateful comments) and the group that was attacked (Muslims/homosexuals). Results show no effects of the amount of hate speech on perceived public opinion for both groups. However, if homosexuals are attacked, hate speech negatively affects perceived social cohesion. Moreover, for both groups, we find interaction effects between preexisting attitudes and hate speech for discriminating demands. This indicates that hate speech can increase polarization in society.

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