Political extremity, social media use, social support, and well-being for emerging adults during the 2016 presidential election campaign

D.C. Leighton*, M.J. Brandt, L.A. Kennedy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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The 2016 U.S. presidential election was marked by hostile political discourse, often on social media, where users were exposed to divergent, and potentially distressing, political discourse. This research explores the effects of this election on the well-being of emerging adults, who receive the majority of their news via social media. Using data from the Emerging Adulthood Measured at Multiple Institutions 2 study, we expected greater social media use to be associated with greater perceived stress, and lower well-being, among emerging adults who are more politically extreme, and expected these relationships would be moderated by social support and social media use. Our pre-registered analysis did not support our hypotheses. Although there were some effects of extremity on stress and well-being, overall the direction of the effects were inconsistent and neither social media use nor social support was found to moderate the effects of extremity on stress and well-being.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEmerging Adulthood
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020


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