Comments-induced biases in evaluating proprietor content on participatory websites : The robustness of user comment quality's effect across judgment conditions

Current research indicates that the quality of user-generated comments can bias the perceptions of a web page’s proprietary message’s quality (e.g. of a news article). However, this effect could be limited to situations where users judge quality in retrospect, i.e. after website exposure, based on information they can remember. Therefore, two experiments explored whether the effect also occurs under systematically different judgment conditions. The first experiment demonstrates that the effect is also observable under online judgment conditions, i.e. when the proprietor content is perceptible during judgment and the judgment task is known during exposure. The second experiment shows that under these conditions the effect even occurs when users are highly aware of the qualitative dissimilarity of the contents from the different authorial sources, and when they consciously try to shield their judgments from the comments’ influence. More theory development and research is needed to explain the effect under these conditions.


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