A study of the effects of nasty comments on reader perception

Barry Ritholtz (one of my favorite bloggers) reporting about a study of the effects nasty comments have on reader perception:

Uncivil comments not only polarized readers, but they often changed a participant’s interpretation of the news story itself. In the civil group, those who initially did or did not support the technology — whom we identified with preliminary survey questions — continued to feel the same way after reading the comments.

Those exposed to rude comments, however, ended up with a much more polarized understanding of the risks connected with the technology.

Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they’d previously thought.

He’s talking about blog comments, but one can imagine similar results would be found studying nasty comments and reviews in the App Store. Or even non-nasty, but irrelevant comments. I often see products given poor reviews for reasons like the following:

  • http://www.watermelonpunch.com watermelonpunch

    This should be studied more. Although I think the results would be pretty obvious. ha ha I know the effect nasty comments have on me is to give the impression that there’s a lot more unsavory & unpleasant people among my fellow humans than I thought there were… or probably makes it seem like there’s a lot more nasty off-putting people than there actually are, because probably the nasty people are probably just a loud minority – but if you read comments threads on some web sites, blogs, & news articles… you might think most people were very unpleasant!