Extremists on the left and right use angry, negative language

J.A. Frimer, M.J. Brandt, Z. Melton, M. Motyl

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Abstract

We propose that political extremists use more negative language than moderates. Previous research found that conservatives report feeling happier than liberals and yet liberals “display greater happiness” in their language than do conservatives. However, some of the previous studies relied on questionable measures of political orientation and affective language; and no studies have examined whether political orientation and affective language are non-linearly related. Revisiting the same contexts (Twitter, U.S. Congress), and adding three new ones (political organizations, news media, crowdsourced Americans), we found that the language of liberal and conservative extremists’ was more negative and angry in its emotional tone than that of moderates. Contrary to previous research, we found that liberal extremists’ language was more negative than that of conservative extremists. Additional analyses supported the explanation that extremists feel threatened by the activities of political rivals, and their angry, negative language represents efforts to communicate as much to others.
Keywords: language, anger, extremism, liberals and conservatives, threat, happiness
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages72
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019

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title = "Extremists on the left and right use angry, negative language",
abstract = "We propose that political extremists use more negative language than moderates. Previous research found that conservatives report feeling happier than liberals and yet liberals “display greater happiness” in their language than do conservatives. However, some of the previous studies relied on questionable measures of political orientation and affective language; and no studies have examined whether political orientation and affective language are non-linearly related. Revisiting the same contexts (Twitter, U.S. Congress), and adding three new ones (political organizations, news media, crowdsourced Americans), we found that the language of liberal and conservative extremists’ was more negative and angry in its emotional tone than that of moderates. Contrary to previous research, we found that liberal extremists’ language was more negative than that of conservative extremists. Additional analyses supported the explanation that extremists feel threatened by the activities of political rivals, and their angry, negative language represents efforts to communicate as much to others. Keywords: language, anger, extremism, liberals and conservatives, threat, happiness",
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Extremists on the left and right use angry, negative language. / Frimer, J.A.; Brandt, M.J.; Melton, Z.; Motyl, M.

In: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2019, p. 1.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AU - Brandt, M.J.

AU - Melton, Z.

AU - Motyl, M.

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AB - We propose that political extremists use more negative language than moderates. Previous research found that conservatives report feeling happier than liberals and yet liberals “display greater happiness” in their language than do conservatives. However, some of the previous studies relied on questionable measures of political orientation and affective language; and no studies have examined whether political orientation and affective language are non-linearly related. Revisiting the same contexts (Twitter, U.S. Congress), and adding three new ones (political organizations, news media, crowdsourced Americans), we found that the language of liberal and conservative extremists’ was more negative and angry in its emotional tone than that of moderates. Contrary to previous research, we found that liberal extremists’ language was more negative than that of conservative extremists. Additional analyses supported the explanation that extremists feel threatened by the activities of political rivals, and their angry, negative language represents efforts to communicate as much to others. Keywords: language, anger, extremism, liberals and conservatives, threat, happiness

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