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February 4 Tuesday

Moral Outrage in the Digital Age, Dr. Molly Crockett, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Yale University

  • Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 12:05PM - 1:30PM
  • SLB Room 128
  • Open To The YLS Community Only
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Moral outrage shapes fundamental aspects of human social life and is now widespread on digital media and online social networks. How might these new technologies change the expression of moral outrage and its social consequences? Principles of reinforcement learning can usefully organize an investigation of digital outrage and its effects on social behavior. We used supervised deep learning to develop a digital outrage classifier that can identify expressions of moral outrage on social media with human-level accuracy. Using our classifier to measure outrage in millions of expressions on Twitter, we tested a hypothesis that online moral outrage expression is amplified over time via positive social feedback from peers. In two independent samples (7,338 users and 12.4 million total tweets) we found that moral outrage expressions garnered more social feedback (‘likes’ and ‘shares’), and that social feedback increased the likelihood of future moral outrage expression. Social reinforcement of moral outrage was stronger for users embedded within networks that were more ideologically moderate. Implications of digital outrage for affective polarization, disinformation, and participation in the public square will be discussed.

Dr Molly Crockett is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale University and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. Prior to joining Yale, Dr Crockett was a faculty member at the University of Oxford's Department of Experimental Psychology and a Fellow of Jesus College. She holds a BSc in Neuroscience from UCLA and a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Cambridge, and completed a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship with economists and neuroscientists at the University of Zürich and University College London.

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