The affective nexus between refugees and terrorism: A panel study on how social media use shapes negative attitudes toward refugees

Jörg Matthes, Ruta Kaskeleviciute, Helena Knupfer, Muhammad Masood

Social media, as an important resource of information for many contentious topics, has great affective potential in terms of anger and fear. We investigated how exposure to news about refugees on social media is related to negative attitudes toward refugees as well as attitudinal differentiation with respect to Muslims and terrorists. A two-wave panel survey (N

T2 = 524) showed that social media use about refugees was not directly related to negative attitudes and attitudinal differentiation. However, we found that anger served as the affective nexus between the refugee topic and the terrorism topic: Social media use about refugees led to more anger about terrorism over time, which in turn led to more negative attitudes toward refugees. Fear with respect to terrorism did not play a role in this process. Overall, our findings underline the key role of anger, but not fear, when trying to understand negative reactions toward refugees.

Department of Communication
External organisation(s)
City University of Hong Kong (CityU)
Political Psychology
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508007 Communication science
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Philosophy, Social Psychology, Political Science and International Relations, Sociology and Political Science
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
Portal url