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National Identity, External Threat, and Online Communication: The Case of Territorial Disputes in Japan
Gento Kato - Japan Foundation CGP Postdoctoral Associate and Lecturer in East Asian Studies

Lab-experiment and survey based studies find that intergroup threat and group identity have significant implications on the formation of political attitudes, that those factors encourage individuals to approach information with directional motivation. On the other hand, unrealistic assumptions prevent those findings to be directly generalized to the real-world context. In this study, we use novel twitter network data during rising territorial disputes in Japan to capture real-world information communication process under intergroup threat. In our data, twitter users communicate information through the network of retweets and web-links. This “information communication network” is examined from both individual-level and society-level perspectives. We find partial support to the previous laboratory and survey based findings. In terms of retweets, it is confirmed that threatening territorial dispute incidents and salient national identity contribute to the increase in individual-level reliance on national identity holders. In the society level, after the incident, identity holders gain more influence in the network than no identity holders on average, but less influence in total. In terms of web-links, links to both opinionated and factual domains increase after the threatening incident, but differ in the timing and persistence of impact. While the impact on factual domains is immediate and short-lasting, the impact on opinionated domains is late and long-lasting. By observing dynamic behavior of inter-dependent individuals in the network, current findings give new insights to the study of intergroup threat, group identity, and motivated reasoning. (In this project, I collaborate with Takanori Fujiwara, Christian Collet, Tetsuro Kobayashi, and Takafumi Suzuki.)

Oct 14, 2021 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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