Loaded language and conspiracy theorizing

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Authors
Klein, Emily, Rose
Issue Date
2023-05
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Electronic thesis
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en_US
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Cognitive science
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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.
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May2023
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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