Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How common are cruel comments posted to online news sites?

Date:
June 27, 2014
Source:
University of Utah
Summary:
Anyone who’s ever ventured into the comments section of a news website has likely observed some unfriendly exchanges. Now research has confirmed just how common such behavior is. The study found that more than 1 in 5 comments included some form of incivility, with name-calling as the most prevalent type.

Anyone who's ever ventured into the comments section of a news website has likely observed some unfriendly exchanges. Now research from the University of Utah and the University of Arizona has confirmed just how common such behavior is.

In a new study published in the Journal of Communication, researchers analyzed more than 6,400 reader comments posted to the website of the Arizona Daily Star, the major daily newspaper in Tucson, Arizona. They found that more than 1 in 5 comments included some form of incivility, with name-calling as the most prevalent type.

"We tracked six different kinds of uncivil language, but name-calling was far and away the most common," said Kevin Coe, assistant professor of communication at the University of Utah and one of the study's authors. "Many people just can't seem to avoid the impulse to go after someone else."

The study also showed that these types of commenters do not fit the stereotype of a few angry individuals who spend hours at their computers blasting others and making baseless claims. In fact, incivility was more common among infrequent commenters. Equally surprising, uncivil commenters were just as likely to use evidence in support of their claims as were the more respectful individuals.

As might be expected, stories that focused on well-known leaders with clear partisan positions garnered more impolite comments. In stories that quoted President Barack Obama, for example, nearly 1 in 3 comments were uncivil.

Disrespectful comments also tended to spike in discussions about weightier issues, such as politics, the economy, crime and taxes. The one exception to this trend was sports articles, which generated the highest percentage of these types of comments.

"Being a sports fan myself, this didn't surprise me," said Coe. "Honestly, the only online incivility I've ever been guilty of was probably sports-related."

The researchers noted one cause for optimism in their findings. When one commenter was directly replying to another commenter, they were more likely to be courteous.

"We tend to be more respectful in our public discourse when we recognize other citizens' perspectives, even when we do not agree with them," noted Kate Kenski, associate professor of communication at the University of Arizona and co-author of the study. "When we quote others participating in an online discussion, we tend to focus on their arguments, not on personal attributions, which makes the conversation more civil."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Utah. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kevin Coe, Kate Kenski, Stephen A. Rains. Online and Uncivil? Patterns and Determinants of Incivility in Newspaper Website Comments. Journal of Communication, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/jcom.12104

Cite This Page:

University of Utah. "How common are cruel comments posted to online news sites?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140627133109.htm>.
University of Utah. (2014, June 27). How common are cruel comments posted to online news sites?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140627133109.htm
University of Utah. "How common are cruel comments posted to online news sites?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140627133109.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Apple Releases 'Shellshock' Fix Despite Few Affected Users

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Apple released a security fix for the "Shellshock" vulnerability Monday, though it says only "advanced UNIX users" of OS X need it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Do Video Games Trump Brain Training For Cognitive Boosts?

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) More and more studies are showing positive benefits to playing video games, but the jury is still out on brain training programs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Facebook Ad Platform Goes Where You Go On The Web

New Facebook Ad Platform Goes Where You Go On The Web

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Called Atlas, the platform allows advertisers to place ads based on Facebook info on sites outside of Facebook. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Google Tightens Requirements For Android Manufacturers

Newsy (Sep. 27, 2014) Phonemakers who want to use Google’s software in their devices will have to stick to more stringent requirements. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins