Outrage 008 – How social media creates incentives for out-group animosity – Steven Rathje

We introduced the podcast with a two-part series with Dr. Peter H. Ditto, Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, telling us about “Political Sectarianism” explaining how our divide goes beyond policy preferences and ideas, arguing that American political partisans are bonded by something that looks more like religious faith where “our” side is morally superior to the other.

The “political sectarianism” research examined a vast array of related research, including research that found that tweets with negative emotion got more engagement, more reactions and reshares, and further, that tweets with moral language got even more engagement.

We talked to Dr. Kurt Gray, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, about research showing how virality metrics, simply showing how popular a message is, can cause moral panics that in turn result in expressions of outrage.

The research we talk about in this episode builds on all this. The paper is titled: Out-group animosity drives engagement on social media

In this episode you will learn about negative affect language, moral language, negativity bias, social identity theory, and much more.

You really want to listen to this conversation. It’s so good that this will be a two-part series.


Dr. Steven Rathje is a postdoctoral researcher at New York University in the Social Identity and Morality Lab. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge (Trinity College), where he was a Gates Cambridge Scholar and a member of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab. Previously, he studied Psychology and Symbolic Systems at Stanford University.

Links and References

Outgroup Animosity Drives Engagement on Social Media: https://www.pnas.org/doi/full/10.1073/pnas.2024292118

Preprint: People think that social media platforms do (but should not) amplify divisive content:
https://psyarxiv.com/gmun4/


💬 What was your big takeaway or insight gained from this episode? Comment below.

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Outrage Overload is a podcast about the outrage industry, my journey to discover what it is, how it affects us, and what we can do about it.