Is Aggression Contagious Online? A Case of Swearing on Donald Trump’s Campaign Videos on YouTube

Date
2017-01-04
Authors
Kwon, K. Hazel
Gruzd, Anatoliy
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Abstract
This study explores whether aggressive text-based interactions in social media are contagious. In particular, we examine swearing behaviour of YouTube commentators in response to videos and comments posted on the official Donald Trump’s campaign channel. Our analysis reveals the presence of mimicry of verbal aggression. Specifically, swearing in a parent comment is significantly and positively associated with the likelihood and intensity of swearing in subsequent ‘children’ comments. The study also confirms that swearing is not solely a product of an individual speech habit but also a spreadable social practice. Based on the findings, we conclude that aggressive emotional state can be contagious through textual mimicry. \
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Keywords
computer-mediated communication, emotional contagion, mimicry in text-based interactions, online political discussion, verbal aggression
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