Legitimacy judgments in an age of social media Influence of emotional tone

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Recent legitimacy literature has been giving more attention to legitimacy in the context of social media. However, the role of individuals has been greatly undervalued. Specifically how emotions and emotional tones of individuals can influence other individual´s judgments. This study will contribute to extant theory by examining the effect of emotional tone in social media posts on legitimacy judgments. In this study it is proposed that an angry emotional tone leads to lower legitimacy judgment compared to a sad emotional tone or neutral tone. Additionally, it is proposed that a sad emotional tone leads to a lower legitimacy judgment compared to neutral, but higher compared to anger. The hypotheses were tested in an online vignette experiment which was distributed through network sampling. In total 94 subjects participated in the experiment. The results show that both an angry and sad emotional tone lead to a lower legitimacy judgment compared to neutral. Additionally, a sad emotional tone leads to a higher legitimacy judgment compared to a neutral tone. This study offers a more comprehensive view of legitimacy theory, appraisal theory, emotional contagion theory and the role of individuals in legitimacy as a construct.
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