Cyberhate that targets people who are plus-size in the news: The role of bystanders in mitigating social pathologies (CYBERPLUS)
CYBERPLUS examines youth bystanders’ appraisals of and reactions to cyberhate targeting people who are plus-size in news media and social media discussions.
Cyberhate, the hateful and biased expressions that attack groups and individuals for their group identities, is one of the major society-wide issues that threatens the EU values of justice, solidarity, and equality. Such biased expressions can be proliferated via the media sphere, including news media and social media discussions, which provide opportunities for the exposed audience to react. These so-called bystanders might adopt the harmful attitudes and reinforce the hate, but they might also dispute the biased expressions and engage in counter-speech.
The main objective of CYBERPLUS is to examine the interplay of the factors that affect youth bystanders’ reactions and provide an empirically based comprehensive and complex model of their appraisal processes and the subsequent behavioural reactions to cyberhate in media. CYBERPLUS will investigate the role of individual-related factors and media-related factors, and their compound effects on cyberhate that targets people who are plus-size, which presents a group identity with low entitativity that has been largely omitted in cyberhate research.
To gain robust and rich findings, a multi-method investigation will be conducted in CYBERPLUS. It will include a between-subject experiment supplemented by a survey and qualitative probes, enriching our understanding of bystanders’ appraisal processes and motivations. CYBERPLUS will answer these main research questions:
- How do individual-related and media-related factors affect bystanders’ cognitive and affective appraisals of cyberhate incidents?
- To which behavioural reactions, differentiated on the levels of activity and valence, do they lead?
The innovative focus of CYBERPLUS is the investigation of both bystanders' cognitive and affective appraisals and the capture of behavioural reactions that vary in the levels of activity (active/passive) and valence (helpful/harmful). The findings will inform policy and legislation makers who address intolerance, journalists, platform designers, and educators who deal with cyberhate and contribute to youth civic engagement.