Mask-Wearing as a Partisan Issue: Social Identity and Communication of Party Norms on Social Media Among Political Elites

Jieun Shin, Aimei Yang, Wenlin Liu, Hye Min Kim, Alvin Zhou, Jingyi Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study draws on the social identity approach (SIA), to examine how political elites (i.e., members of the 116th United States Congress) communicated norms about mask-wearing on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Twitter data collected in 2020, we found that Republican members of Congress were significantly less likely to promote mask-wearing than Democratic members. We also observed some variations in norm-conforming behaviors among the members of each party. For Republicans, increased loyalty to the Trump leadership was significantly associated with a lower level of mask promotion. For Democrats, we found some evidence that loyalty to the party predicted higher levels of mask promotion. On the other hand, interactions with out-group members decreased adherence to party norms for both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. These findings allow us to better understand the social–psychological effects of party membership among political elites as well as the importance of leader–follower relationships and intergroup interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSocial Media and Society
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • intergroup dynamics
  • leadership
  • masks
  • norm communication
  • pandemic
  • partisanship
  • polarization
  • political elites
  • social identity
  • social media

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