Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280
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The present study aims to help better understand the cognitive and affective processes at work in ‘moral struggles’ concerning discussions about hosting immigrants. In particular, it will focus on the prosocial aspect of the debate on hosting of immigrants since previous studies have stressed mainly its racist nature. To this end, a total of 12,583 comments were extracted from the Facebook page of an Italian singer, divided into prosocial and proself stances, and analysed by developing a specific coding based on the theory of helping behaviour in emergency (Darley and Latané 1968) and the theory of moral agency (Bandura 1991). Prosocial processes were defined on the basis of the following ‘loci’: recipients, behaviour, consequences and agency. In parallel the comments were analysed by emotional coding to identify the levels of expressed anger. The results showed a wide variety of prosocial stances associated with these loci in online arguments within real sentences. Prosocial commenters can use words as weapons toward proself commenters to win their ‘crusade’ when they are flamed, and they are ‘cold’ when they focus on recipient and consequences. Finally, results suggested that a dialogue between prosocial and proself positions can occur in the presence of a moderate level of anger.


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