Social media expression and the political self

Daniel S. Lane, Slgi S. Lee, Fan Liang, Dam Hee Kim, Liwei Shen, Brian E. Weeks, Nojin Kwak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Expression has the power to shape how we see ourselves. In this paper, we argue that the dynamics of political expression on social media can influence not only political behavior, but also citizens' more fundamental political self-concepts. Specifically, political expression on social media can entail a public commitment to a political self-presentation, which may lead individuals to perceive themselves as politically active, interested, efficacious, and knowledgeable. Analyzing panel survey data from the 2016 U.S. election, we find that political expression on social media increases users' motivations to present themselves as politically active on social media. Political self-presentation motivations are, in turn, positively associated with strengthened dimensions of political self-concepts (i.e., political interest, political self-efficacy, and perceived participation). Findings emphasize the role of expression in shaping political self-concepts, and further hint that this relationship may depend on whether the expressive behavior constitutes a clear, public commitment to a political self-presentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-72
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Political Expression
  • Public Commitment
  • Self-Concept
  • Self-Presentation
  • Social Media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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