Social Media and Morality

Jay J. Van Bavel, Claire E. Robertson, Kareena del Rosario, Jesper Rasmussen, Steve Rathje

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Nearly five billion people around the world now use social media, and this number continues to grow. One of the primary goals of social media platforms is to capture and monetize human attention. One means by which individuals and groups can capture attention and drive engagement on these platforms is by sharing morally and emotionally evocative content. We review a growing body of research on the interrelationship of social media and morality as well its consequences for individuals and society. Moral content often goes viral on social media, and social media makes moral behavior (such as punishment) less costly. Thus, social media often acts as an accelerant for existing moral dynamics, amplifying outrage, status seeking, and intergroup conflict while also potentially amplifying more constructive facets of morality, such as social support, prosociality, and collective action. We discuss trends, heated debates, and future directions in this emerging literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-340
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual review of psychology
StatePublished - Jan 18 2024


  • emotions
  • identity
  • morality
  • outrage
  • politics
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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