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“Can a self-regulation strategy help make social media more civil? Exploring the potential of mental contrasting with implementation to reduce incivility in online political discussion,” was published by Stubblefield Institute Senior Fellow Dr. Matthew J. Kushin and colleague Dr. Masahiro Yamamoto of SUNY Albany in the journal New Media & Society online on May 10, 2023.

The article explores whether the self-regulation strategy known as Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII) can be used to help social media users reduce their use of incivility when engaging in online political discussions.

Dr. Kushin and Dr. Yamamoto conducted two experiments and found that MCII shows promise in reducing online political incivility. They hope further research will expand upon their findings with the long-term hope that self-regulation strategies like MCII may be used by the public to help reduce the concerning levels of incivility online.

Funding to conduct this research was provided by the Stubblefield Institute.


“Understanding the linkages among political incivility, political polarization, and political participation is central to our ability to craft suitable responses and, ultimately, effective solutions to what is surely one of the most important and pressing challenges facing American democracy today. In that respect, the good news from the “Civility and Civic Engagement Survey” is twofold.

First, the results presented here suggest that even though substantial majorities of Americans view incivility in public life as epidemic and highly problematic, most have not given up on the American political system. In fact, many Americans are actively engaging in the political life of their communities and in political discussions with one another.

The second piece of good news is that this report is really just the first step in the Institute’s effort to understand, explore, and address the issues associated with incivility in political discourse – with deeper and more sophisticated examinations of these relationships already underway.

Taken together, these make an excellent starting point for many future explorations of civility, civic engagement, public trust, and the health of our political world.”

  • Stephanie A. Slocum Schaffer, Stubblefield Institute Senior Fellow

Read the Civility and Civic Engagement Research and Data Report Research here