Online interactions are psychologically different to offline interactions; for example we can’t see the facial expressions of the people we are interacting with, or hear their tone of voice, and therefore we may be guided more by the social cues people give away than we would in offline interactions. Examples of these social clues include factors such as age, gender, nationality, and even which football club you support. If you make other people aware of the social groups to which you belong, they are likely to stereotype you in line with the group stereotypes, values, and norms. This can alter the way in which we perceive and relate to others. For example, two football fans will interact differently if they are aware that they support the same, versus different, teams.
It is possible to identify the group affiliations and political and ideological orientation of people through the language that they use online. For example, using collective pronouns such as ‘we’ or ‘us’ or ‘our’ in combination with particular ideological content might suggest that an individual affiliates with a radical group. In this project, we examined how peoples’ language changed over time, to explore attitude change.