Friday, November 01, 2019

Screaming Into The Void: How Outrage Is Hijacking Our Culture, And Our Minds

October 7, 20194:58 PM ET

This week on Hidden Brain, we explore how the satisfactions of outrage affect our politics, our communities, and our minds.

Additional Resources:

"Moral outrage in the digital age," by Molly Crockett, 2017.

"The Value of Vengeance and the Demand for Deterrence," by Molly Crocket, Yagiz Ă–zdemir, and Ernst Fehr, 2014.

"Attentional capture helps explain why moral and emotional content go viral," by William Brady, Ana Gantman & Jay Van Bavel, 2019.


[A soundbite of the show, with transcript is at the following link]

October 9, 20195:03 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition

SHANKAR VEDANTAM: There's a reason there is so much outrage out there. It's a very effective way to get your attention. At New York University, psychologist Jay Van Bavel and his team have analyzed more than half a million tweets, specifically those that used moral and emotional language.


VEDANTAM: Van Bavel found lots of words generate outrage. Profanities are on the list; so are hate, war and greed.

BAVEL: For every moral, emotional word that people use in a tweet, we found that it increased the rate of retweeting from other people who saw it by 15 to 20%.


VEDANTAM: That's because even as outrage is effective at capturing attention, its audience is mostly people who share the same beliefs. The people who disagree are listening to rants in their own echo chambers. Brady and Van Bavel find that messages presented with less outrage are more likely to spark conversations with opponents. Those are the people, after all, whose views we want to change.



expressing outrage online may result in less meaningful involvement in social causes, for example through volunteering or donations. People are less likely to spend money on punishing unfairness when they are given the opportunity to express their outrage via written messages instead10.


there is a serious risk that moral outrage in the digital age will deepen social divides. A recent study suggests a desire to punish others makes them seem less human2. Thus, if digital media exacerbates moral outrage, in doing so it may increase social polarization by further dehumanizing the targets of outrage.


No comments:

Post a Comment