University of Sussex
Fearn, Harriet.pdf (4.67 MB)

The impacts of cyberhate

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posted on 2023-06-09, 05:16 authored by Harriet Fearn
The thesis explores the impacts of being exposed to hate material online, so called cyberhate, using social psychological theories of group identity as a framework to explore victimisation experiences when targeted directly or witnessing others from the same identity group being targeted, known as indirect victimisation. Three papers examine these impacts with two commonly stigmatised groups; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people (LGB&T) and Muslims. Paper 1 reports the results from two online surveys about the nature of cyberhate experienced by these two groups. Results indicate it is a common and frequent problem occurring over a range of internet platforms and mediums and there are a number of negative emotional reactions and behavioural intentions similar to those reported by Intergroup Emotions Theory after group identity challenges. Paper 2 uses qualitative interviews with victims of cyberhate to gain a detailed understanding of the impacts of being victimised. Participants indicated that there is a level of resilience to being targeted as bad behaviour is expected online, but being exposed to hateful material causes many to take avoidance action, avoiding certain parts of the internet. Paper 3 presents the results of an innovative experimental study exposing members of the stigmatised groups and a control to hate material. Those viewing group specific hate material felt angrier than when just viewing generally unpleasant material. The current research finds that being targeted online has similar negative impacts to offline hate crime, both to those who are targeted directly but also those who are indirectly victimised.


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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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