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Ideological Website Communication

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Ideological Website Communication

Communicating Ideologies Online: The Role of Website Content and Design

Ideological groups have found the internet a useful place to promote particular ideologies, recruit new group members, and exert influence in political, social, and religious domains. Some of these groups are extreme, sasnctioning or promoting violence in order to further their ideologies. This research examines characteristics of violent and non-violent ideological websites.

Findings indicated that violent ideological websites were lesscredible and had lower levels of interactivity than non-violent and non-ideological sites. However, violent sites used more fear tactics, emotional appeals, moral disengagement mechanisms, and social categorization. These findings have important implications for the formation, maintenance, and reach of online ideological groups. 

Phase two of this research involved a series of experiments to examine causal relationships of credibility factors, interactivity, and persuasion routes to attitudes and behavioral intentions regarding ideologies espoused on ideological websites. Fabricated ideological websites were constructed as part of this effort in order to achieve some level of experimental control and to enable manipulation of these specific features. Variables such as website violence, credibility cues and heuristics, interactivity, emotional appeals, and pre-existing ideological attitudes interacted in interesting ways across studies to influence emotional reactions, ideological attitudes, and behavioral intentions. 

Broader Impacts

Research Papers