Public Release: 

Tweeting about sexism may improve a woman's wellbeing

Publicly tweeting about sexism could improve a woman's wellbeing as it has the potential to let them express themselves in ways that feel like they can make a difference

British Psychological Society

This is one of the findings of a study by Dr Mindi Foster, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada that is published today, Friday 30 January 2015, in the British Journal of Social Psychology. The study was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Dr Foster explained: "We know women can be badly affected by experiences of sexism and that responding publically can be stressful and risky. This study examined whether using Twitter to respond to sexism could be done in a public way without any negative effects to their wellbeing."

A total of 93 female undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of three conditions regarding tweeting over a three day period. All participants received information over the three days regarding topical issues around sexism in politics, the media and in universities for them to tweet about. One group was required to tweet publically, another privately and the third group did not tweet at all. They received no instructions regarding the number or the content of tweets they should undertake.

All participants completed mood questionnaires and wellbeing measures after they tweeted. Tweets were also analysed for linguistic and emotional content. Emotions identified were: anger, discontent, sarcastic, shocked, surprise and sadness. The most common combination was surprise and discontent.

"Never knew there was this much sexism in politics! It's so disturbing! Shocked disgusted".

Analysis showed that the group of women who tweeted publically displayed feelings of increased wellbeing by the third day. Neither of the other two groups showed any changes in wellbeing.

Dr Foster said: "We know that popular online campaigns such as EverydaySexism have empowered women to speak out and share their experiences. However, this study demonstrates how tweeting publically has the potential to improve women's wellbeing.

"More research is required to understand whether this form of collective action has any further health benefits."

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For further information contact the British Psychological Society Press Centre, Tel: 0116 252 9500 or email: presscentre@bps.org.uk

PR15.013
Date: Thursday 29 January 2015

Full paper title is 'Tweeting about sexism: The well-being benefits of a social media collective action.'

The paper will be available at this link after the publication date

About the British Journal of Social Psychology

The British Journal of Social Psychology publishes original papers in all areas of social psychology.

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About the British Psychological Society: The British Psychological Society is the representative body for psychology and psychologists in the UK.

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About Wilfrid Laurier University

Wilfrid Laurier University is a leading Canadian university known for academic excellence and a culture that inspires lives of leadership and purpose. Laurier has a distinct commitment to teaching, research and scholarship, combined with a strong student focus, high levels of student satisfaction and a deep sense of community. Laurier's innovative educational model purposefully integrates the academic learning experience with an experiential learning component.

The university has more than 19,000 students throughout its campuses in Waterloo and Brantford and locations in Kitchener and Toronto. The university celebrated its centennial in 2011. http://www.wlu.ca

Laurier specializes in arts and social sciences, business and economics, music, science, social work, education and theology. Established as the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary of Canada in 1911, the university remains the home of the affiliated Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

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