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Title Mobilizing Hate: Moral Emotional Content and Popular Support for Violence in Online Media
Post date 11/29/2018
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

What role does online content play in the mobilization of popular support for violence against targeted individuals and outgroups? The scholarship on collective violence, genocide, and war has long emphasized the role of content—i.e. propaganda, usually—in creating or inflaming hatred towards outgroups to generate popular support for violence (Charny 1982; Cohn 1967; Dower 1986; Fein 1979; Herf 2006; Hill 1995; Goldhagen 1996, 2009; Tsesis 2002). Few scholars, however, have directly tested the causal effects of content on violent behavior, and the results of these studies have been mixed. This issue is of particular importance and relevance in light of the emerging political debate about the deleterious effects of “fake news” and how social media companies may best handle the dissemination of their content.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

We test several hypotheses regarding the potential effects of content type, outgroup cues, and peer influence on individuals’ support of violent punishment and negative sanctions against outgroups. We hypothesize that moral emotional content—i.e. content that portrays sensationalized acts of moral transgression—drives support for violence against perceived normative violators and the outgroups with which they are affiliated; this effect is enhanced, we argue, if there is clear peer support for violence.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

We use an online survey experiment with a two-by-two-by-two factorial design that randomly presents respondents with a fabricated news article that varies according to content type, the presence of outgroup cues, and the popularity (upvoted-ness) of violent user comments.

C4 Country United States
C5 Scale (# of Units) 1656
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? No
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number IRB00000245
C9 Date of IRB Approval 02/01/2018
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Researchers
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? No
C13 JEL Classification(s) not provided by authors