Social Identity Cues: Social Reward and Social Punishment Shape our Attitudes

Defining the Problem

Reading content written by people we consider to be members of our social groups can bring a sense of social connection (e.g., Sude, Westerwick, & Knobloch-Westerwick, 2021, presented at ICA) and this desire for social connection can support the adoption of even clearly erroneous views (Garrett, Sude, & Riva, 2020). In Garrett et al. (2020), fact-check messages highlighted misinformation that was commonly believed by people’s partisan peers; those people who were motivated to restore a sense of social connection ironically embraced the misinformation being “corrected.”

Solving the Problem

If you want to address the spread of low quality or completely false information, you must address this social context.

Can you bring people with thoughtful and nuanced beliefs together, so that they can reinforce each other’s habits?

Can you activate other social identities and remind people that they will have to interact with people who disagree with them?

Can you lead people to anticipate a pleasant cross-cutting conversation by exposing them to people who hold differing beliefs but do so with a spirit of civility and cooperation?

The Power of Similar Sources (Click here to view presentation if the embedded video below does not work)


Recent experiences shape our subjective social landscapes

Self-Expression Affordances

How we express ourselves shapes what we think