What Makes Us Click? Demonstrating Incentives for Angry Discourse with Digital-Age Field Experiments
35 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 4 Jul 2014
Date Written: 2011
Recent work on emotions in politics has the potential to help us understand what the explosion of new media sources means for the strategies politicians use and the information citizens receive. Past theories find anxiety to increase information seeking, but have divergent expectations for a separate emotion common in politics: anger. In a new type of field experiment, I induce feelings of anger and anxiety and passively measure the effects on information seeking. Across three studies, I find anger to increase information seeking to a large degree – substantially increasing web users’ proclivity to click through to a political website. The results suggest that anger can mobilize and speak to psychological incentives for political communication, under some conditions, to employ angry rhetoric.
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