Online communication to the ingroup and the outgroup: The role of identity in the "what" and "why" of information sharing


How and why do people share opinions online? In research conducted offline, the social identity of the audience is a key factor: whether they are composed of one’s ingroup or outgroup affects what people share and why. Do people behave similarly and for similar reasons online? To test this, we put participants (N = 326) in imaginary forums belonging to their ingroup and outgroup. In each, people selected statements to share, along with reasons for doing so. The results showed a high degree of heterogeneity; people shared nearly all kinds of statements with both audiences, for a variety of reasons. However, there were also consistent patterns. Identity expression was the most common reason for sharing to both audiences, but this led to different things being shared to each. To the ingroup, people preferred to share statements expressing ingroup beliefs, while to the outgroup, they preferred statements expressing universal beliefs.

In M Goldwater and F Anggoro and B Hayes and D Ong (Eds.) Proceedings of the 45th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society: Manuscript under review