Understanding President Trump supporters’ behaviors about a political controversy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Communication Management, 2020, 24, (2), pp. 119-136
Issue Date:
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© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: This study seeks to understand Trump supporters’ behaviors on social media in the wake of a political controversy: US President Trump’s continued support for Judge Roy Moore’s candidacy for the US Senate representing the state of Alabama despite several allegations of sexual assault against him. Design/methodology/approach: Few days before the special election was held in Alabama, an online survey was conducted among 325 supporters of President Trump to explore Trump supporters’ social media behaviors, including the unfriending/unfollowing contacts and speaking out about the controversy. Findings: We found a negative presidential image to influence individuals’ loss of face, and such loss of face to impact unfriending/unfollowing behaviors on social media, as well as outspokenness. Furthermore, the differences between strong issue supporters and weak issue supporters’ opinions of climate perceptions and outspokenness were investigated. Originality/value: Rather than using fear of isolation as the mediator between opinion climate and willingness to speak out, as is generally the case in the spiral of silence model (Moy et al., 2001), this study investigated the role of another affective indicator, loss of face on two social media behaviors, outspokenness, and unfollowing/unfriending contacts on social media.
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