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“We Shall Overcome”: First-Person Plural Pronouns From Search Volume Data Predict Protest Mobilization Across the United States

Adam-Troian, Jais; Bonetto, Eric; Arciszewski, Thomas

“We Shall Overcome”: First-Person Plural Pronouns From Search Volume Data Predict Protest Mobilization Across the United States Thumbnail


Authors

Jais Adam-Troian

Eric Bonetto

Thomas Arciszewski



Abstract

Collective action is a key driver of social and political change within societies. So far, the main factor mobilizing individuals into collective action remains the extent to which they feel identified with a protesting group (i.e., social identification). Although the link between social identification and collective action is well-established, current evidence relies mostly on self-report data. To tackle this issue, we combined real-life protest counts in the US (2017-2020) with online search data (Google Trends) for pronouns indicating a ‘group’ mindset (first-person plural pronouns; e.g. ‘we’, ‘us’). Time series analyses indicated that weekly fluctuations in searches (N = 164) predict both protest and protester counts over time. Confirmatory mixed-models then showed that a 1% increase in pronoun searches was linked with +13.67% protests 95%CI[4.02,23.32] and +47.45% protesters 95%CI[26.54, 68.36] the following week. These original results have important implications for the ecological study and quantification of collective action dynamics in psychology.

Citation

Adam-Troian, J., Bonetto, E., & Arciszewski, T. (2021). “We Shall Overcome”: First-Person Plural Pronouns From Search Volume Data Predict Protest Mobilization Across the United States. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12(8), https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550620987672

Acceptance Date Jul 6, 2021
Online Publication Date Feb 17, 2021
Publication Date Feb 17, 2021
Publicly Available Date May 30, 2023
Journal Social Psychological and Personality Science
Print ISSN 1948-5506
Electronic ISSN 1948-5514
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 8
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550620987672
Keywords social identification, first-person plural pronouns, collective action, protests, search volume data
Related Public URLs 10.31234/osf.io/73uea
https://psyarxiv.com/73uea/

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