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Exposure to online hate material and subjective well-being: A comparative study of American and Finnish youth

Teo Keipi (Department of Social Research, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Pekka Räsänen (Department of Social Research, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
Atte Oksanen (Department of Social Psychology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)
James Hawdon (Department of Sociology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA)
Matti Näsi (Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 12 February 2018




The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between subjective well-being (SWB) and exposure to online hate material using samples of Finnish and American youth and young adults. The authors aim to identify socio-demographic determinants of SWB and the social ties prevalent both online and offline that may be relevant to the discussion of how hate material associates with well-being.


The data are derived from online survey responses from both Finnish (n=555) and American (n=1,014) young people aged 15-30. The authors control for the possible effects of social trust, offline friendships, online victimisation and economic status, which have been found to associate with SWB in earlier studies.


The findings show a clear association that highlights the uniformity in how negatively intended material online affects young people, despite the inclusion of a cross-national comparison. The study confirms previous work concerning happiness and life satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

The survey used was not designed solely to address issues of SWB and as such a more targeted set of questions may have resulted in more in-depth data. Also, structural determinants of SWB, social spheres, and tie strength were analysed through proxy measures.

Practical implications

The findings concerning new variables linked to well-being and victimization in the cross-national context provide a new point of reference in terms of online hate being associated with happiness.


The authors consider a number of descriptive characteristics, determining the relationship between these variables and participants’ happiness. Through this cross-national data set, new comparisons were made possible between internet users of both countries. The study combines many earlier findings with new variables and theoretical frameworks to add new perspectives to the understanding of how well-being is affected online among young people.



Keipi, T., Räsänen, P., Oksanen, A., Hawdon, J. and Näsi, M. (2018), "Exposure to online hate material and subjective well-being: A comparative study of American and Finnish youth", Online Information Review, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 2-15.



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