Powerful communication style on Twitter: Effects on credibility and civic participation

Keywords

Social media, civic participation, linguistic style, gender, credibility, Twitter, NGO, environmental protection

Abstract

The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of two linguistic styles used in Twitter messages on engaging users in civic participation activities, understood as participation by citizens in community improvement actions. Using a socio-linguistic approach, an experimental intervention was carried out in which 324 university students evaluated the messages posted by the head of an environmental NGO on Twitter. The gender of the NGO head (male vs. female) and the linguistic style used for the posts were manipulated in terms of a «powerful» (e.g., assertive, direct) or «powerless» style (e.g., indirect, ambiguous). The gender of the evaluators was also manipulated in order to analyze potential differences among the overall impressions and evaluations between men and women. The results showed that «male» and «female» versions of the NGO head were perceived as more credible when they used a powerful as opposed to a powerless linguistic style. This effect was observed irrespective of the evaluator’s gender. Moreover, the test for indirect effects suggested that credibility mediated the relationship between a powerful style and the likelihood of engaging users to participate in the NGO’s agenda. The results are discussed in terms of the relevance of this type of communication for promoting civic participation in social media.

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Technical information

Received: 06-10-2015

Revised: 02-11-2015

Accepted: 23-11-2015

Preprint: 15-02-2016

Publication date: 01-04-2016

Article revision time: 27 days | Average time revision issue 47: 35 days

Article acceptance time: 48 days | Average time of acceptance issue 47: 62 days

Preprint editing time: 133 days | Average editing time preprint issue 47: 147 days

Article editing time: 178 days | Average editing time issue 47: 192 days

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Alvídrez, S., & Franco-Rodríguez, O. (2016). Powerful communication style on Twitter: Effects on credibility and civic participation. [Estilo comunicativo súbito en Twitter: Efectos sobre la credibilidad y la participación cívica]. Comunicar, 47, 89-97. https://doi.org/10.3916/C47-2016-09

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