Interregional and intraregional variability of intergroup attitudes predict online hostility

Hannes Rosenbusch*, Anthony Evans, Marcel Zeelenberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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To what extent are intergroup attitudes associated with regional differences in online aggression and hostility? We test whether regional attitude biases towards minorities and their local variability (i.e. intraregional polarization) independently predict verbal hostility on social media. We measure online hostility using large US American samples from Twitter and measure regional attitudes using nationwide survey data from Project Implicit. Average regional biases against Black people, White people, and gay people are associated with regional differences in social media hostility, and this effect is confounded with regional racial and ideological opposition. In addition, intraregional variability in interracial attitudes is also positively associated with online hostility. In other words, there is greater online hostility in regions where residents disagree in their interracial attitudes. This effect is present both for the full resident sample and when restricting the sample to White attitude holders. We find that this relationship is also, in part, confounded with regional proportions of ideological and racial groups (attitudes are more heterogeneous in regions with greater ideological and racial diversity). We discuss potential mechanisms underlying these relationships, as well as the dangers of escalating conflict and hostility when individuals with diverging intergroup attitudes interact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-872
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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