Predicting the Importance of Freedom of Speech and the Perceived Harm of Hate Speech


Daniel M. Downs, 9800 Deercreek Road, Moreno Valley, CA 92557. E-mail:


Although freedom of speech is a fundamental value in the United States, individuals vary in the importance they place on it. The purpose of this study was to examine personality and attitudinal factors that may influence an individual's judgments of the importance of freedom of speech and, secondarily, the harm of hate speech. As expected, the importance of freedom of speech was positively related to intellect, individualism, separate knowing, and negatively related to right-wing authoritarianism. Men rated freedom of speech more important than did women. The perceived harm of hate speech was positively related to intellect and liberalism, and women perceived a greater harm of hate speech than did men.