Can We Counteract Hate? Effects of Online Hate Speech and Counter Speech on the Perception of Social Groups

Svenja Schäfer, Isabella Rebasso, Ming Manuel Boyer, Anna Maria Planitzer

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


Hate speech can increase stereotyped thinking and social distancing in a society. However, there is still a lack of variety in the social groups under study and research into possible solutions to the problem. Thus, our aim is to (1) study effects of hate speech against Chinese people and transgender people and (2) to investigate if counter speech can offset the detrimental effects of hate speech. We conducted a pre-registered online experiment with a 2 × 3 between-subject design, varying the attacked group (Chinese people/transgender people) and the type of comments (neutral/hate speech/hate speech and counter speech) for an Austrian sample (n = 1285). Findings reveal no effect of hate speech on the dependent variables, indicating that citizens might not be as vulnerable to hate speech after all. However, counter speech has a polarizing effect: attitudinal gaps and differences for social distancing increase between left-wing and right-wing participants if hate speech is countered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-579
Number of pages27
JournalCommunication Research (CR)
Issue number5
Early online date28 Sep 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2024

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 508012 Media impact studies


  • counter speech
  • hate speech
  • IAT
  • stereotypes

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