Speech as a Driver of Intergroup Violence: A Literature Review

People have been trying to understand the catalysts of human behavior, especially violent behavior, for thousands of years. In this review, we focus on a topic that has been largely overlooked in the literature so far: how speech, especially public, often online speech, can inspire civilians of one group to attack civilians of another or create an atmosphere in which such violence is encouraged.

We refer to this as intergroup violence, and distinguish it from other forms of collective violence such as war. The relevant groups are often defined by identity markers including immutable ones, such as race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, but intergroup violence can also target groups defined by other characteristics, such as occupation.

Researchers have explored other possible drivers of violence against individuals, such as violent movies and video games, producing bodies of literature that other scholars have already synthesized. However, this seems to be the first standalone review on our topic.

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