Insight into what role in-group favouritism and out-group degrading play among the anti-vaccination discourse
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Background: By providing insight into the different types of arguments used by anti-vaccination proponents on Twitter, this study aims to contribute towards the development of an effective method that also considers the anti-vaccination discourse. Insights from the Social Identity Theory and the Identity Based Motivation Theory were used as theoretical lenses to understand the role of in-group favouritism and out-group degrading within the anti-vaccination discourse. Methods: The analysis of this research was based on an iterative process. A total of 2000 tweets were randomly selected out of 85000 tweets for further manual coding. Once the 2000 tweets were categorised and analysed for content, all the anti-tweets were selected for further analysis. This subset contained 58 tweets which were categorised under eleven different content codes. Results: This study showed that the in-group members, who refer to those against vaccinations will degrade the out-group members as a way of enhancing the in-group. Almost half of all anti-tweets contained out-group degrading (48%). In addition to this the in-group favours their group-members and regard their in-group highly. However, they are not present in large numbers (19%). This study also showed that different types of arguments are used by anti-vaccination proponents and there are differences in the type of arguments and the use of in-group favouritism and out-group degrading. Conclusions: Only a small body of work has examined whether Social Identity Theory and the Identity Based Motivation Theory are implicated in anti-vaccination tweets on Twitter and to what extent they play a role. Therefore, it is extremely important to conduct further research to develop an effective method that incorporates the anti-vaccination discourse.