How do online spaces shape our stances on controversial social topics? How do we improve online spaces where, sometimes, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” (Yeats, 1919)?
In an online media environment, browsing of media content and social influence become inextricably linked. We can observe expressions of opinion by others, from likes, to comments, to shares. We can express our own opinions through similar means. This online social context, fostered by affordances, shapes our online social identities, our search for information relevant to those identities, and our imagined use of this information in current or future social interactions.
Online spaces appear to lead to an intensification of existing social and psychological processes. To take a mundane example, while the experience of reading an op-ed in a newspaper over our morning coffee may have shaped our perception of public opinion in the past, now we consume articles online, bombarded by social cues, from reactions of our friends to reactions from perfect strangers.
I care about “normatively desireable” information processing, framed from the perspective of Young’s work on Democracy and Inclusion, but also agonistic pluralism. Guided by this interest, I ask:
- When do we seek out information that could challenge our existing opinons?
- How good can we get at distinguishing credible from noncredible information?
- How do social goals impact these processes?
- When are “normatively ideal” users of online spaces willing to fight for social change?
In its broadest arc, my research builds bridges between studies of media diet, online (versus face to face) discussion, and political participation.
My colleagues and I have identified key variables including identification with non partisan social groups (Sude, 2020, dissertation), the desire to fit into a group (Garrett, Sude, & Riva, 2020), and perceptions of shifts in public opinion within groups (e.g. Sude, Knobloch-Westerwick, Robinson, & Westerwick, 2019; Westerwick, Sude, Robinson, & Knobloch-Westerwick, 2020). I am now turning to an examination of specific social goals as they impact selective exposure and information processing.
“On the shoulders of giants,” I draw upon numerous theories, including TIME and SIDE (affordances), the social identity perspective, the motivated reasoning literature, attitude strength research, and spiral of silence theory.
My work balances a need to understand psychological process and a desire for ecological validity, such that my research designs emphasize observing selective exposure (see Knobloch-Westerwick, Westerwick, & Sude, 2020), realistic stimuli, and stimuli covering multiple political issues. I want not just to study political process, but to lay the groundwork for improving that process.
For more about the way that I apply psychology, communication, and statistics for my private sector clients, please contact me. For now, suffice it to say that I work with my clients to put their ideas about their customers to the test and to design brands that have the “whole customer” in mind. Further, if you are working directly on the design of online spaces, please be in touch!
My work is informed by degrees in cultural anthropology (B.A. w/ honors, Dartmouth College), social psychology (M.A. in the Social Sciences, University of Chicago; M.A. in Psychology, University of British Columbia), and communication (M.A., Ph.D., The Ohio State University). In the fall, I will be working as a Post Doctoral Fellow for Dr. Shira Dvir-Gvirsman at Tel Aviv University.
My full CV can be found here: CV_Daniel_Sude_2020.