In short: what happened in the Less Hate, More Speech project
The Less Hate, More Speech project set out to investigate in what situations political elites and mass media can, intentionally or unwittingly, help reduce or proliferate anti-democratic and intolerant discourse among the citizens (including online). This was made possible by combining numerous components in the 9 work packages that focused on research activities.
Why so many research areas and methods? Why would comment moderation not have been enough? Although online discourse may seem different from the way people converse offline, commenters are ordinary people, like everyone else. Most are not fundamentally different from the rest of society, and their online behaviour is influenced by the same values, convictions and attitudes they possess the rest of the time. This is why the comment moderation and comment section experiments, which were central to this project, would not have had the same practical and research value, had they not been done with a knowledge of, on the one hand, the mechanisms behind intolerant and anti-democratic attitudes and, on the other hand, the social and informational context around us.
To institute new norms in the comment section and identify the situations that encourage commenters to act more respectfully towards others, it was necessary to understand intolerance in general. Our research therefore sought to reveal among what people and under what circumstances tolerance is stronger or weaker, as well as how mass media and political elites think and how they influence the public.
The study of public opinion, through national surveys and online or survey-embedded experiments, showed what inner resources and mechanisms we can mobilize to encourage tolerance, as well as what kind of messages from elites are likely to elicit more tolerant reactions. What is more, these activities built upon other research done in Norway and elsewhere. This way, we contributed to a greater understanding of how intolerance differs from country to country, depending on the media, political and social context. At the same time, we shed further light on the unifying features of intolerant and anti-democratic attitudes among people from very different countries.
Less Hate, More Speech – Youngsters Get Involved!
The project is run by Median Research Centre (MRC) in partnership with Educ Association and targets young people between 12 and 17 years old, in order to help them better identify and react to online and offline hate speech.
More, on the project’s website.