Do negative political news online always attract more attention and interaction than civil news? Article by Ashely Muddiman of the University of Kansas, Jamie Pond-Cobb of Wayne State University and Jamie E. Matson of Winona State University studies interaction with different kind of political content.
The authors conducted two experiments testing whether negativity always increasess engagement with news. The news articles were about incivility in the US Congress. For the experiment, the authors created news website and recorded the individuals’ news selection behaviours on the site. The second experiment focused on a participant interacting with a full article.
The results show that, opposite to the hypothesis, civility in the news increased news engagement. News articles with a lot of and with multiple types of incivility discouraged people from engaging with the online articles. The results contradict with the often found negative bias of news selection but align with research indicating that people like to share positive information online.
The context of news may influence engagement with positive and negative information, the article concludes.
The article “Negativity Bias or Backlash” was published in Communication Research and is available online (free abstract).
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