New publication: “When posting is believing” – Effects of opinion expression in social media

New publication in the Journal of Media Psychology: The study "When posting is believing" (by Stephan Winter, Paola Remmelswaal, and Anne Vos) investigated how posts on social media may affect the opinions of the sender (and not just those of the readers).

Background: Social media make it easy to post opinions on current topics. This study investigated if people adapt statements to the majority and if writing something down publicly makes (private) opinions stronger or more extreme (internalization). We developed an experiment in which people took part in a discussion and varied the media context (Facebook group with high vs. low likelihood of future interaction, discussion forum, text document) and the visible majority opinion. Results showed that participants adapted their opinion expression to the majority and tended to internalize these attitudes later. This internationalization (or self-effect) was stronger in Facebook groups with a more relevant audience but was also visible in more anonymous settings (forums and private text document). One conclusion: Self-effects occur in social network sites (and may solidify opinions or make them more extreme); however, they are not specific for this media context. But it is possible that SNS foster public opinion expressions and therefore make such effects more likely in the wild. This could be tested in field studies or combinations with survey data. 

The article is available with open access, and data and materials can be found here: https://osf.io/5qf2r.

Link to the article


Date of news Oct 04, 2021 12:00 AM