This new study finds that American identity is increasingly shaped by politics

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A new paper suggests that American identity is increasingly defined by politics and that Americans now identify even more with their politics than with their religion.

The study was published in the Journal of Social Computing on February 16, 2022.

She examined the changes in the Twitter bios of 20 million randomly selected Twitter users from 2015 to 2018.

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(A Twitter bio, for those who don’t know, is a brief introduction, in which a Twitter user freely describes who they are, their interests, affiliations, etc.)

Why is American identity becoming increasingly political?

The study’s two co-authors , Nick Rogers and Jason J. Jones of Stony Brook University, wanted to see if politics played a bigger role in Americans’ “social identity” than it has in the past.

According to social identity theory, a person’s sense of self depends largely on their membership in social groups.

As proxies for the politicization of American identity, the researchers measured whether the number of Twitter users including political keywords in their bios had increased (or actually decreased).

Political keywords: signals of explicit vs. implicit in-group bias

To do this, they created a list of explicit and implicit political keywords.

Examples of explicit keywords were “socialist”, “libertarian”, “alt-right”, “progressive”, “anarchist” and “GOP”.

The list of implied political keywords included, for example, “Woke”, “Red pill”, “MAGA”, “the 99%”, “Deplorable”, “Black lives matter” and “Blue lives matter”.

Of course, your list is almost bound to be incomplete, as the number of “political” keywords is virtually endless.

But, the researchers write, “we believe it is a fair representation of the spectrum of current, modern political group identities.”

They also wanted to test whether the inclusion of these political words overtaken other “identity” words in Twitter bios.

These included identity words related to arts (e.g. “designer” or “musician”), sports (“baseball”, “soccer” etc.) and religion (“Mormon”, “Hindu” , etc.).

Results: Yes, politics does play a larger role in American identity

The results confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis.

“Twitter users,” they write, “are more likely to include a political keyword, either explicitly or implicitly, as part of their bio.”

The proportion of Twitter users including an explicitly political keyword (like Republican or Democrat) in their bio rose from 41 per 10,000 (in 2015) to 77 per 10,000 (in 2018).

And the increase in implicit political keywords (e.g., “woke” or “regrettable” or “BLM”) was even faster.

It went from 33 to 86 (per 10,000 users) over the same four years.

In fact, the prevalence of explicit political words in Twitter bios increased by 20% in 2016. In 2017 it grew by 25% and in 2018 by 26%.

The prevalence of implicit keywords grew even faster. It saw a 30% increase in 2016, a 49% increase in 2017 and a 34% increase in 2018.

In fact, none of the 26 political keywords analyzed has decreased in prevalence.

Seven of them remained unchanged and 19 increased.

Interestingly, the upward trend in political keywords applied roughly equally to the political divide between “left and right”.

Identification with other social groups remained unchanged

And the researchers hypothesized that the prevalence of non-political identity words in Twitter bios (e.g., words related to religion, sports, or art) remained about the same over the four years they analyzed.

Another interesting finding is that in 2018, more Twitter users described themselves in political than in religious terms; This was not the case in 2015.

This year, 65 out of 10,000 Twitter users had a religious keyword in their Twitter bios. By 2018, that number had only risen to 69 per 10,000.

But by 2018, the prevalence of political keywords in Twitter bios had surpassed religious keywords.

Explicit political words have increased from 41 to 77 per 10,000, and implicit political keywords from 33 to 86.

“In a nation traditionally viewed as uniquely religious among its own countries ‘ the researchers write, ‘that’s remarkable.’

Does social categorization on Twitter represent the US as a whole?

These trends were true for both the overall sample of 20 million Twitter users and the longitudinally tracked subsample of 3.5 million Twitter users whose bios were analyzed in each of the four years studied.

The authors suggest that this finding reveals two trends simultaneously.

The first is that new Twitter users are more politically oriented than the existing user group.

At the same time, “existing Twitter users are changing their identities to become more political.”

Of course, most people don’t use Twitter. And as such, Twitter users don’t represent a random sample of Americans.

In fact, a recent study found that Twitter users are younger, wealthier, and more educated than the general population of the United States as a whole.

They are also rather politically liberal.

Nevertheless, the authors say that their finding of increasing politicization of social identity is consistent with other politicization measures.

Examples include ever increasing voter turnout, an increase in politically motivated consumer boycotts, and an increase in political activities such as donations, volunteering, and wearing politically themed clothing and accessories.

Why is this important ? In-Groups, Out-Groups, and Self-Identity

“To the extent that a person’s Twitter bio is a valid measure of their sense of identity,” write Rogers and Jones, “Americans are becoming more self-defined prominent in their politics.”

This is important, they suggest, because previous research has shown that forming a group identity also alters individual behavior.

On a phenomenon that as “group polarization,” according to the study, “people who start out with “vague, weakly held opinions tend to become more radical and dogmatic when placed in like-minded groups.”

Additionally, such people “rapidly develop hostile feelings toward outgroup members,” leading to more “their.”

Content Creator Zaid Butt joined Silsala-e-Azeemia in 2004 as student of spirituality. Mr. Zahid Butt is an IT professional, his expertise include “Web/Graphic Designer, GUI, Visualizer and Web Developer” PH: +92-3217244554

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