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

See all articles by Timothy J. Ryan

Timothy J. Ryan

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Date Written: 2011

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Ryan, Timothy J., What Makes Us Click? Demonstrating Incentives for Angry Discourse with Digital-Age Field Experiments (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1902693

Timothy J. Ryan (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

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