Social Media Activism

  • I began this line of research with an interest in the psychological benefits of social media activism. The paper below showed that when women tweet out their responses to sexism they had just read about, their well-being increases over 3 days, compared to 3 control groups:

Foster, M. D. (2015). Tweeting about sexism: The well-being benefits of a social media collective action. British Journal of Social Psychology, 54, 629-647.


Accessible Summary

  • To further understand how social media activism enhanced well-being, this set of three studies published in Computers in Human Behavior show that online activism enhances the relationship between gender identity and personal well-being. More specifically, the more pervasive women thought gender discrimination was, the stronger their reported gender identity was, which in turn, increased their well-being.  However, this pattern of relationships held only among women who participated in online activism, and who considered such activism to reflect an active (vs. passive) form of activism. Click here for the submitted paper.
  • One of those conditions is validation from others.  This study shows that among those who think others will view them positively after tweeting about sexism, their tweets increase their gender identity, which increase collective action intentions, which in turn, increase behavioural collective actions.  But these relationships disappear among those who don’t expect validation from others. If you were an introductory psychology student at Laurier, you might have participated in this study. This paper reflects the result of the Power and Fairness study (REB 5806). You can find the pre-formatted version here: FosterMFinalMS_RR4.
  • I’m also interested in what the words people use when posting on social media tell us about their focus/intention.  This paper tests the accuracy of the ‘angry mob’ stereotype that has been put on the #MeToo movement. A linguistic analysis of people’s #MeToo tweets shows there is no basis for the ‘angry mob’ stereotype; instead, people were in search of personal empowerment and to make meaning of their negative experiences.