Loaded language and conspiracy theorizing

Authors
Klein, Emily, Rose
ORCID
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0214-9859
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Other Contributors
McGuinness, Deborah
Strzalkowski, Tomek
Golbeck, Jennifer
Hendler, James
Issue Date
2023-05
Keywords
Cognitive science
Degree
PhD
Terms of Use
This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
Full Citation
Abstract
Loaded language is an umbrella term for words, phrases, and overall rhetorical strategies that have strong emotional implications and intent to sway others. Belief in conspiracy theories is tied to a range of strong emotions (van Prooijen and Douglas, 2018). Accordingly, language with strong emotional and persuasive content may be expressed by people experiencing the strong emotions associated with conspiracy theorizing. In this research, I examined multiple types of loaded language in three studies: (1) a comparison of loaded language on two online parenting forums for and against vaccination, (2) a comparison of loaded language on the subreddits r/conspiracy, r/science, and r/wallstreetbets, and (3) an evaluation of loaded language in a dataset from the alt-tech social networking platform Parler on January 6, 2021, when the U.S. Capitol was attacked as a consequence of conspiracy theories regarding the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential Election. Results show that loaded language, whose usage is linked to the cognitive motivations underlying belief in conspiracy theories, is a linguistic marker of conspiracy theorizing.
Description
May2023
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Department
Dept. of Cognitive Science
Publisher
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Relationships
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
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