Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Experimental Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Lucian Gideon Conway

Commitee Members

Daniel Denis, Stephen Yoshimura, Rachel Severson, Allen Szalda-Petree


forced consensus, impression management, informational contamination, preferred pronouns, reactance


University of Montana


Political divisions in the United States have led to conflating political issues with political parties. People who possess a set of intercorrelated beliefs (e.g. pro-immigration, prochoice) are assumed to be liberal, while those who hold opposing intercorrelated beliefs are assumed to be conservative. Impression management research suggests that in the online world, minor cues on one’s social media profile that display political beliefs serve as indicators of people’s political ideology. While people are free to declare their political views on personal social media accounts, what happens when people perceive that they are forced to appear aligned with one political group (whether they are a member of that group or not)? To examine this question, I had Twitter users respond to a scenario about preferred pronouns. Specifically, participants read a scenario where all Twitter users are either required to post cues on their Twitter profiles that are associated with political liberalism (or not). Results show that forced display of preferred pronouns increases public agreement overall but decreases private agreement for those who did not already post pronouns. Pressure to post preferred pronouns also indirectly decreased LGBT attitudes and increased concern for political correctness. These indirect effects were mediated by two well-known psychological phenomena that other work implicates in backfiring: Reactance and informational contamination. I conclude by discussing the implications of forced political allegiance in the online world.



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