Margaret Samahita is presenting at the VCEE Seminar

Margaret Samahita (University College Dublin) talks about "How does social pressure stifle free speech?" on May 12, 2023 at 10.30am.

Speaker:Margare<wbr />t Samahita (University College Dublin)

Webpage:<wbr />https://www.mar<wbr />garetsamahita.c<wbr />om/

Title: How does social pressure stifle free speech?

Abstract<wbr />: This paper studies public opinion in the contextof strong social norms. We present a model that highlights how social pressurecan affect the public expression of opinion either through a change in publiclystated views (conformity) or by inducing self-censorship (silence). In several pre-registeredo<wbr />nline experiments in the US, we elicit participants' views on twocontroversia<wbr />l issues (gender and race) and their willingness to publish theseviews online in an incentivized manner. The empirical patterns are consistentwith the presence of ideologically left-wing social norms: participants whoheld left-wing views were more willing to publish these. We then manipulatesocia<wbr />l pressure in three different ways. First, making participants aware ofthe prospect for publication results in conformity to the left-wing norm.Second, informing participants that a lower share of previous participants werewilling to publish their views results in a lower willingness to publish.Finally<wbr />, priming participants with the threat of online social backlash reducestheir willingness to speak up (though explicit mention of "cancelculture" increases speaking up within a sub-sample).