I like them but won't like them: An examination of impression management associated with visible political party affiliation on Facebook

Christopher Archer-Brown

Research output: Working paper

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Abstract

In social, unlike traditional media our interactions with political parties are generally public, subject to scrutiny by others and therefore a self-presentation concern. The effect of this has been largely neglected by academics. With focus on gateway interactions (e.g. ‘Liking’ political pages) we aim to contribute to this gap. Through the lens of Impression Management Theory, we predict that while users may be motivated to ‘Like’ a political party, some may feel socially anxious about the impressions their friends may derive from this action, and so ultimately choose to refrain from ‘Liking’ the party. Furthermore, we propose a new function which we refer to ‘Secret Likes’ (i.e. ‘Likes’ that others cannot see) as a means to increase gateway interactions. A survey of eligible voters (n=225) was conducted in the month prior to the 2015 UK general election, examining behavior associated with the Facebook pages of the two largest political parties. Results support that conspicuous affiliation with a political parties indeed hinders intention to ‘Like’ political pages. ‘Secret Likes’ were found to be a successful method to increase gateway interactions. Implications for political party communications and site designers and are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015

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