Feeling and thinking on social media: emotions, affective scaffolding, and critical thinking

S. Steinert*, L. Marin, S. Roeser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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It is often suggested that social media is a hostile environment for critical thinking and that a major source for epistemic problems concerning social media is that it facilitates emotions. We argue that emotions per se are not the source of the epistemic problems concerning social media. We propose that instead of focusing on emotions, we should focus on the affective scaffolding of social media. We will show that some affective scaffolds enable desirable epistemic practices, while others obstruct beneficial epistemic practices, or enable hostile epistemic practices. Particularly, we will show that emotions play a crucial role in the epistemic practice of critical thinking and that the affective scaffolding of social media can support, or hinder, online critical thinking. The upshot of our argument is that affective scaffoldings of social media can harness emotions to support beneficial epistemic practices, like online critical thinking.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalInquiry (United Kingdom)
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • epistemic bubbles
  • echo chambers
  • fake news
  • distrust
  • emotions
  • critical thinking
  • social media


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