The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:19 pm

Participants

This study employed a nationally representative sample of the American population (N = 2,338) for an online survey with an embedded experiment conducted by Knowledge Networks with a completion rate of 54.2 percent.
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:20 pm

Experimental Design

Participants were asked to complete a pretest survey that asked about media use habits, science knowledge and efficacy, and nanotechnology support, among other items. The experiment was a between-subjects design and consisted of a neutral blog post from a Canadian newspaper that detailed equivalent risk and benefit information about nanotechnology. Specifically, the nanotechnology blog post discussed nanosilver particles and compared risks (e.g. water contamination) with benefits (e.g. antibacterial properties). Participants were given one of eight manipulations that varied by “user” comments under the post. We chose to utilize blog comments as a space for deliberation because this is a standard and stable platform utilized on most blog and news websites. Thus, the concept of commenting in online sites is a familiar one to most people who are Internet users, while other discussion platforms, such as discussion forums or social media sites, are not as widely used or have only gained traction in recent years.

The manipulations of interest in this study were that of civil vs. uncivil comments. For example, an uncivil comment began with “If you don't see the benefits of using nanotechnology in these products, you're an idiot.” Alternatively, civil comments made the same argument as their uncivil counterparts, but used polite language and acknowledgement of other users by names and not expletives. After reading the stimulus, respondents were asked to complete a posttest survey that asked about the blog and comments, risk and benefit perceptions, and demographic information, among other items. This study focuses on respondents who received the nanotechnology issue, which gave a final sample size of n = 1,1831.
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:20 pm

Condition variables

Civility was a dichotomous variable based on the manipulation that each participant received, where 0 = uncivil condition and 1 = civil condition. Read comments ascertained the level of attention paid to the blog post's comments by asking participants their rate of agreement on a 10-point scale with the statement, “I read all of the comments,” where 1 = “Do not agree at all” and 10 = “Agree very much” (M = 7.73; SD = 3.08).
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:21 pm

Measurement

Dependent variable


To assess polarization of an attitude due to online incivility, we employed risk perception as the dependent variable in this study. The item asked respondents, “On the issue of nanotechnology, do you think the benefits outweigh the risks, the risks outweigh the benefits, or the risks and benefits are about the same?” This was measured on a 5-point scale where 1 = “Benefits far outweigh the risks” and 5 = “Risks far outweigh the benefits” (M = 3.22; SD = 1.12).
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:22 pm

Independent variables

All independent variables, with the exception of demographic and condition variables, were measured prior to the experimental manipulation.
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:22 pm

Demographic variables

Age was measured on a 7-point scale, where 1 = “18-24” and 7 = “75+” (Median = 4; SD = 1.67). Gender was a dichotomous variable with 0 = male and 1 = female (49.9 percent female). Socioeconomic status (SES) was created by compiling an index of two variables: level of education and family income (scale ranged from 3 to 16.5; M = 10.79; SD = 2.72).
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:23 pm

Value Predispositions

Religiosity was measured by asking respondents, “How much guidance does religion provide in your everyday life?” with 1 = “No guidance at all” and 10 = “A great deal of guidance” (M = 5.97; SD = 3.23). Ideology was measured by asking respondents to rate how socially liberal or conservative they are on a 6-point scale, with 1 = “Very liberal” and 6 = “Very conservative” (M = 3.61; SD = 1.36).
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:23 pm

Media Use

Newspaper use was assessed by asking respondents, “How much attention do you pay to news stories about the following topics when you read the newspaper, either in print or online?” Responses were measured on a 5-point scale, where 1 = “None” and 5 = “A lot.” An index was created of three items: (1) “Stories related to science or technology,” (2) “Stories about scientific studies in new areas of research, such as nanotechnology,” and (3) “Stories about social or ethical implications of emerging technologies” (M = 2.60; SD = .99; Cronbach's alpha = .91). Television use was assessed by asking respondents the question, “How much attention do you pay to news stories about the following topics when you watch television news, either on a traditional television or in online sources (such as Hulu or websites of television networks, such as ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox)?” Again, an index was created from three items worded identically to the items that made up the newspaper variable (M = 2.68; SD = .99; Cronbach's alpha = .92). Internet use was assessed by asking respondents the question, “How much attention do you pay to news about the following topics when you go online for news and information? Please exclude online versions of print newspapers or television shows and answer this question based on your usage of blogs, websites, and online-only newspapers.” An index was created using the same topics that were examined in the newspaper and television items (M = 2.17; SD = 1.06; Cronbach's alpha = .95).
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:23 pm

Nanotechnology familiarity, efficacy, and attitude

Familiarity was assessed by asking participants the question, “How much have you heard, read, or seen about nanotechnology?” This was measured on a 10-point scale with 1 = “Nothing at all” and 10 = “Very much” (M = 2.81; SD = 2.19). Familiarity is often used instead of factual knowledge questions because it allows respondents to judge their levels of knowledge according to their own terms rather than through what experts believe are the facts people must know in order to be scientifically literate (see Brossard & Shanahan, 2006). Support was assessed by indexing two 10-point items (1) “Overall, I support the use of nanotechnology,” and (2) “Overall, I support federal funding of nanotechnology,” where 1 = “Do not agree at all” and 10 = “Agree very much” (M = 5.26; SD = 2.39; Pearson's R = .78). Efficacy was created by indexing two 10-point items: (1) “Nanotechnology seems so complicated that a person like me can't really understand it,” and (2) “I would need more information about nanotechnology before I could make any decisions about it.” These items were recoded so that 1 = low efficacy and 10 = high efficacy (M = 5.87; SD = 2.42; Pearson's R = .68).

Finally, three interaction terms were created by separately multiplying the standardized value of civility by the standardized values of support, familiarity, and religiosity.
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Re: The "Nasty Effect:" Online Incivility and Risk Perceptio

Postby admin » Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:24 pm

Analysis

This study employed an ordinary least squares hierarchical linear regression model with risk perception as the dependent variable. The independent variables were entered into the model in six different blocks based on their assumed causality. Block 1 contained variables related to the experimental manipulation, exposure to civility or incivility and read blog comments. Read blog comments was used as a control variable. Blocks 2 and 3 contained demographics and value predispositions, respectively, and both represent stable characteristics. Blocks 4 and 5 contained specific characteristics related to individuals' experiences with science, with general science-related variables coming first and nanotechnology-specific variables coming second. Block 4 contained science media use, and Block 5 contained specific nanotechnology familiarity, support, and efficacy. Finally, Block 6 tested interactions between civility and predispositions.
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