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Feb 03, 2015 08:13 PM EST

Sexism: Tweeting About It May Improve A Woman's Well-Being

New research suggests that publicly tweeting about sexism could improve a woman's well-being.

Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada found that women who tweet publicly displayed feelings of increased well-being.

"We know women can be badly affected by experiences of sexism and that responding publicly can be stressful and risky," researcher Mindi Foster said in a statement. "This study examined whether using Twitter to respond to sexism could be done in a public way without any negative effects to their well-being."

For the study, researchers collected data from 93 female undergraduate students.

Study participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions regarding tweeting over a three day period. All participants received information over the three days regarding topical issues around sexism in politics, the media and in universities for them to tweet about. One group was required to tweet publicly, another privately and the third group did not tweet at all. They received no instructions regarding the number or the content of tweets they should undertake.

The students completed mood questionnaires and well-being measures after they tweeted. Tweets were also analyzed for linguistic and emotional content. Emotions identified were: anger, discontent, sarcastic, shocked, surprise and sadness. The most common combination was surprise and discontent.

Analysis showed that the group of women who tweeted publicly displayed feelings of increased well-being by the third day. Neither of the other two groups showed any changes in well-being.

"We know that popular online campaigns such as EverydaySexism have empowered women to speak out and share their experiences. However, this study demonstrates how tweeting publicly has the potential to improve women's well-being," she added. "More research is required to understand whether this form of collective action has any further health benefits."

The findings are detailed in the British Journal of Social Psychology.

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