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The association between political identity centrality and cancelling proclivity

Mesler, Rhiannon M, Howie, Katharine, Chernishenko, Jennifer, Shen, Mingnan Nancy, Vredenburg, Jessica (2024) The association between political identity centrality and cancelling proclivity. Acta Psychologica, 244 . Article Number 104140. ISSN 1873-6297. (doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2024.104140) (KAR id:105107)


Augmented by the rise of social media, contemporary culture has increasingly witnessed the phenomenon of "cancellation" - that is, a brand's swift and public fall from grace, catalyzed through digital platforms like Twitter and, in turn, traditional media. We are the first to examine individual difference predictors of cancelling proclivity. We explore the relationship between a novel individual difference, political identity centrality (the extent to which one's political identity [e.g., liberal, conservative] is central to self-concept), and individuals' propensity to seek retribution from a moral transgressor online (i.e., their "cancelling proclivity"). Additionally, we test the mediating roles of individual differences in moral exporting (actively promoting and supporting the proliferation of one's own moral beliefs), social vigilantism (the tendency of individuals to impress and propagate their "superior" beliefs onto "ignorant" others), virtue signaling (signaling one's virtuousness for public respect or admiration), and self-efficacy on the relationship between political identity centrality and cancelling proclivity. Using an online panel (n = 459), we uncover that political identity centrality is significantly and positively associated with cancelling proclivity operationalized as reaction strength to transgressions and calling-out (calling attention to a transgression) and piling-on a transgressor (mass public prolific addition of comments about the transgression and transgressor). Interestingly while both virtue signaling and social vigilantism were found to be significant mediators, they played distinct roles wherein virtue signaling mediates the relationship for strength of reaction to transgressions, and social vigilantism mediates the relationship for calling-out and piling-on. The current research illustrates that some individual behavior may be less about what someone believes and rather the importance of those beliefs to one's identity - a valuable insight not previously identified in the literature. We discuss theoretical contributions, implications for future research, and applied implications (e.g., how brands might recover from cancellations).

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2024.104140
Uncontrolled keywords: Individual differences, POlitical orientation' Identity, Identity centrality, Cancel culture, Social media
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Marketing, Entrepreneurship and International Business
Funders: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2024 16:15 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 12:54 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Chernishenko, Jennifer.

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