Powerful Communication Style on Twitter: Effects on Credibility and Civic Participation

Jose Alvidrez Villegas, Oziel Franco-Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)
86 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of two linguistic styles used in Twitter messages on engaging users in civic participation activities, understood as participation by citizens in community improvement actions. Using a socio-linguistic approach, an experimental intervention was carried out in which 324 university students evaluated the messages posted by the head of an environmental NGO on Twitter. The gender of the NGO head (male vs. female) and the linguistic style used for the posts were manipulated in terms of a «powerful» (e.g., assertive, direct) or «powerless» style (e.g., indirect, ambiguous). The gender of the evaluators was also manipulated in order to analyze potential differences among the overall impressions and evaluations between men and women. The results showed that «male» and «female» versions of the NGO head were perceived as more credible when they used a powerful as opposed to a powerless linguistic style. This effect was observed irrespective of the evaluator’s gender. Moreover, the test for indirect effects suggested that credibility mediated the relationship between a powerful style and the likelihood of engaging users to participate in the NGO’s agenda. The results are discussed in terms of the relevance of this type of communication for promoting civic participation in social media.
Original languageEnglish
Article number47
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages8
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2016


  • Social media
  • civic participation
  • civic engagement
  • linguistic style
  • gender
  • credibility
  • Twitter
  • NGOs
  • Environmental concern

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