Much of online conversation today consists of signaling one’s political identity. When communicating in mixed groups, do people use "covert" signals that are recognizable by their own political in-group but easy for outsiders to miss?
Cognitive and Information Sciences Associate Professor Paul Smaldino answered this question in a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Smaldino developed a mathematical theory of covert signaling and, working with a team of collaborators, confirmed the model's predictions using a large sample of tweets. They found that covert political signaling is more common when the perceived audience is politically diverse. This opens the door to a better understanding of communication in politically polarized societies. Read more