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The role of social media in shaping solidarity and compassion fade: How the death of a child turned apathy into action but distress took it away

Thomas, E.F.ORCID: 0000-0001-8664-9748, Cary, N., Smith, L.G.E., Spears, R. and McGarty, C. (2018) The role of social media in shaping solidarity and compassion fade: How the death of a child turned apathy into action but distress took it away. New Media & Society . In Press.

Link to Published Version: https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818760819
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Abstract

An image of drowned Syrian toddler, Aylan Kurdi, was popularly shared through social media and this promoted a surge of solidarity with Syrian refugees in September 2015. However, this response was not sustained. We explore the role of social media engagement in the emergence of solidarity and its decline (compassion fade). We collected data when sympathy for refugees was peaking (September 2015), and 1 year later. Latent change score modeling (N = 237) showed that engagement with the image through social media allowed people to form a pro-refugee group consciousness that acted as the proximal predictor of solidarity. However, reductions in the same factors explain the reduced commitment 1 year later. Distress predicted the reductions in social media engagement. The results support the power of social media to ignite world-changing action, but caution that online engagement may dissipate in the face of ongoing challenges.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: SAGE
Copyright: © 2018 by SAGE Publications
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/40658
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