Research on the psychological impact of communications-related laws
May 14, 2020 8:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm hoping to find research on the psychological impacts of laws related to communications. This is to inform a literature review about the possible psychological effects of anti-misinformation laws. Hypothetical example: a study about whether an anti-hate speech law is associated with changes in motivations for posting on social media.

My searches in academic databases haven't yielded much. Which is consistent with a review by Linda Demaine and Robert Cialdini that asserts a lack of research in general about the law as a tool of social influence.
posted by far flung to Society & Culture (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Poynter has published A guide to anti-misinformation actions around the world that includes some commentary from advocacy groups about the impacts of some of the laws, depending on the context, i.e. censorship, lack of press freedom.

Cultural differences in psychological reactance: Responding to social media censorship (Ng, Kermani, Lalonde, Current Psychology, Mar. 2019, DOI: 10.1007/s12144-019-00213-0)

And while this isn't exactly what you describe, it may suggest search terms to consider: Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study (Karen Turner, WaPo, Mar. 28, 2016, "The study, published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, studied the effects of subtle reminders of mass surveillance on its subjects. The majority of participants reacted by suppressing opinions that they perceived to be in the minority. [...] The “spiral of silence” is a well-researched phenomenon in which people suppress unpopular opinions to fit in and avoid social isolation.")
posted by katra at 9:52 PM on May 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Open Democracy discusses the impact of laws in The fight against disinformation: a proposal for regulation, and this study appears to reflect a similar theme: Prebunking interventions based on “inoculation” theory can reduce susceptibility to misinformation across cultures (Jon Roozenbeek, Sander van der Linden, and Thomas Nygren (2020) The Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review,, See Also How to fight online misinformation: beyond laws and algorithms, try vaccination (Jon Roozenbeek, Sander van der Linden, Open Democracy, Dec. 11, 2019, "Using the law to fight misinformation, meanwhile, raises serious questions about freedom of speech and expression.")
posted by katra at 11:20 PM on May 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

There is also the psychological concept of "chilling effects" that might be something to explore, e.g. Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor (PEN American Center, Nov. 12, 2013), Investigative Journalists and Digital Security: Perceptions of Vulnerability and Changes in Behavior (Pew Research Center, Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Feb. 5, 2015)
posted by katra at 11:44 PM on May 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

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