We conducted a pre-registered online experiment with a 2 × 3 between-subject design, varying the attacked group (Chinese people/transgender people) and the type of comments (neutral/hate speech/hate speech and counter speech) for an Austrian sample (n = 1285). Findings reveal no effect of hate speech on the dependent variables, indicating that citizens might not be as vulnerable to hate speech after all. However, counter speech has a polarizing effect: attitudinal gaps and differences for social distancing increase between left-wing and right-wing participants if hate speech is countered.


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