To share or not to share? How emotional judgments drive online political expression in high-risk contexts
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Previous scholarship on networked authoritarianism has examined an array of repressive legal and political strategies employed by regimes to constrain online political expression. How the tension between citizens’ desires to engage in online political expression and the possible dire consequences of doing so is resolved, however, is understudied. We address this lacuna by drawing upon concepts from risk and decision-making research and examining how the emotional and cognitive components of risk and decision-making shape citizens’ online political expression. Employing a three-wave panel survey of Turkish internet users collected over 8 months, our fixed-effects regression analyzes show that anticipatory emotions drive expressive behavior, but that risk assessment does not. Furthermore, the influence of negative emotions on online expression is moderated by individuals’ degree of regime opposition. We discuss the importance of understanding the psychological mechanisms by which networked authoritarian contexts influences citizens’ decisions to engage in contentious online speech.