Can ♥s Change Minds? Social Media Endorsements and Policy Preferences

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Title: Can ♥s Change Minds? Social Media Endorsements and Policy Preferences
Authors: Conzo, PierluigiTaylor, Laura K.Morales, Juan S.Samahita, MargaretGallice, Andrea
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Date: 4-Feb-2021
Online since: 2021-02-12T10:59:48Z
Abstract: We investigate the effect of social media endorsements (likes, retweets, shares) on individuals’ policy preferences. In two online controlled experiments (N=1,384), we exposed participants to non-neutral policy messages about the COVID-19 pandemic (emphasizing either public health or economic activity as a policy priority) while varying the level of endorsements of these messages. Our experimental treatment significantly shifted the policy views of active social media users by about 0.12 standard deviations. The treatment effect for these users is heterogeneous depending on their pre-existing views. Specifically, message endorsements reinforce pre-existing attitudes, thereby increasing opinion polarization. The effect appears concentrated on a minority of individuals who correctly answered a factual manipulation check regarding the endorsement metrics. This evidence suggests that though only a fraction of individuals pay conscious attention to these metrics, they may be easily influenced by these social cues.
Type of material: Working Paper
Publisher: University College Dublin. School of Economics
Start page: 1
End page: 27
Series/Report no.: UCD Centre for Economic Research Working Paper Series; WP2021/04
Copyright (published version): 2021 the Authors
Keywords: Social mediaSocial conformityPolitical polarizationCOVID-19 economic effectsCOVID-19Coronavirus
JEL Codes: D83; L82; L86; O33
Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
This item is made available under a Creative Commons License:
Appears in Collections:Psychology Research Collection
Geary Institute Research Collection
Economics Working Papers & Policy Papers

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