Crude Comments and Concern: Online Incivility’s Effect on Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies

 
Fool4Reason
 
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Fool4Reason
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07 March 2013 18:24
 

A Study from the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication:

Crude Comments and Concern: Online Incivility’s Effect on Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies

Abstract
Uncivil discourse is a growing concern in American rhetoric, and this trend has expanded beyond traditional media to online sources, such as audience comments. Using an experiment given to a sample representative of the U.S. population, we examine the effects online incivility on perceptions toward a particular issue—namely, an emerging technology, nanotechnology. We found that exposure to uncivil blog comments can polarize risk perceptions of nanotechnology along the lines of religiosity and issue support.

Conclusion
Online communication and discussion of new topics such as emerging technologies has the potential to enrich public deliberation. Nevertheless, this study’s findings show that online incivility may impede this democratic goal. Much in the same way that watching uncivil politicians argue on television causes polarization among individuals, impolite and incensed blog comments can polarize online users based on value predispositions utilized as heuristics when processing the blog’s information. The effects of online, user-to-user incivility on perceptions towards emerging technologies may prove especially troublesome for science experts and communicators that rely on public acceptance of their information. The effects of online incivility may be even stronger for more well-known and contentious science issues such as the evolution vs. intelligent design debate or climate change. Future research may explore these issues to gain a better understanding of the formation of risk perceptions for controversial political or science topics in the context of user-generated online comments.

(Emphasis mine)

 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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07 March 2013 18:28
 

Yup.  I’m not all that surprised.

 
 
Fool4Reason
 
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Fool4Reason
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07 March 2013 20:16
 
Jefe - 07 March 2013 05:28 PM

Yup.  I’m not all that surprised.

Nah, me neither.  I only wish I could restrain myself sometimes, so that I never again find myself ‘yelling’ at any of the morons out there, about what complete idiots they are. It is better to present your arguments in a calm rational manor, no? wink