Tracking opinion convergence online
The effect of facial attractiveness
We investigate whether facial attractiveness, as one source of positive/negative attitudes towards one’s conversational partner, affects the degree and type of opinion convergence online, even in the absence of physical co-presence. Our hypothesis is that when you interact with someone you find attractive, opinion convergence will occur even if you are not physically co-present with them. Additionally, we tracked different types of opinion convergence (one-sided or mutual) and how convergence is linguistically negotiated in these different circumstances. Our hypothesis was confirmed, to a point. Opinion convergence was most frequent among Attracted pairs; however, opinion convergence was greatest among Neutral pairs. Opinion convergence was qualitatively different in the 3 conditions. This research adds to previous studies which highlighted aspects of communication unique to online environments (anonymity, invisibility) to explain the heightened tendency for face-threatening behaviours to occur online, by showing how implicit biases (operationalized here as facial attractiveness) can be an additional factor influencing online behaviour.
Keywords: anonymity, facial attractiveness, opinion convergence, implicit bias
This article is currently available as a sample article.
Published online: 28 May 2018
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