Social Group Identity and Perceptions of Online Hate

Author: Costello, M., Hawdon, J., Bernatzky, C., & Mendes, K.

Description: Why do some people find online hate material more disturbing than others? We use a random sample of Americans between the ages 15 and 36 to address this question. Descriptive results indicate that a majority of respondents surveyed find online hate material very or extremely disturbing, while smaller shares find it moderately, slightly, or not at all disturbing. We utilize an ordinal logistic regression to explore factors associated with these varying perceptions of hate material. Results demonstrate that males and political conservatives find hate material less disturbing than females and political moderates or liberals. These results are expected, as online hate is largely dominated by right-wing extremists who frequently target females and non-conservatives. We also find that individuals who see hate material more frequently find it more disturbing, as do those who have been the target of hate or criminality online. Finally, individuals who are more accepting of violating social norms are less disturbed by online hate.

Subject headings: Online extremism; Social groups; Perception; Online hate; Gender; Politics; Exposure

Publication year: 2019

Journal or book title: Sociological Inquiry

Volume: 89

Issue: 3

Pages: 427–452

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Type: Journal article

Serial number: 3115

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