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The Communication and Social BIAS Research Lab

The Communication and Social BIAS (Beliefs, Ideologies, Affect, and Stereotypes) Research lab at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev focuses on exploring the ways in which communication and social biases shape public opinion and behavior in different political and cultural contexts. 

We explore how two central social factors—communication and social bias—preserve, reinforce, and moderate public opinion and human behavior. In our lab, we rely on different combinations of quantitative and qualitative approaches, including a broad range of quantitative methods—notably, experiments, public opinion polls, and human and computational content analysis—as well as qualitative ones, such as in-depth interviews, textual analysis, and participatory observations. Through this interdisciplinary and multi-methodological perspective, we develop a deeper understanding of the use and effects of (professional and digital) communication as well as beliefs, ideologies, affect, and stereotypes in shaping and constructing public opinion and social behavior. 

Our work aims to understand the mechanisms by which individuals, social groups, and nations construct and preserve public opinion and behavior during both stable times and times of conflict and crisis (e.g., wars, economic crises, or pandemics). The lab’s current work focuses on comparative studies of political and social groups, such as ultra-Orthodox and former ultra-Orthodox, the LGBT and Queer communities, refugees, immigrants, and nations. In addition, together with Prof. Dr. Pascal Jürgens (Department of Media and Communication Studies, University of Trier, Germany), we are developing an artificial neural network that can automatically detect hate speech and stereotypes in textual and visual media. Our work investigates these issues across three specific areas: (a) developing state-of-the-art methods for detecting hostile communication behavior (such as the use of hate speech and stereotypes); (b) examining the effects of stereotypes on public opinion and behavior; (c) exploring the effect of activism on the change of attitudes and behavior; and (d) revealing the ways in which digital and social media used as a coping mechanism among minority and marginalized groups.

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