Liking versus commenting on online news: effects of expression affordances on political attitudes

By performing actions such as “liking” a post, commenting on it, or sharing it with others, we are constantly expressing our opinions about ongoing news and public affairs on online media platforms. How do these acts of expression affect our feelings and opinions? We address this question from an “affordance” perspective, focusing on the effects of both the presence of the expression affordance (cue effects) and users’ actual engagement with it (action effects). We conducted an online experiment (N = 368) on a news website with thumbs-up/down and/or commenting as low-effort and high-effort expression affordances, respectively. Data revealed that the low-effort affordance led to more affective polarization while the high-effort affordance promoted increased interest in deliberation. Merely presenting a commenting cue mitigated affective polarization by increasing perceived interactivity. However, when users engaged the affordance by providing comments, it tended to reinforce pre-existing opinions. These findings have theoretical and practical implications.

Wang, J. y Sundar, S. (2022). Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Volume 27. Full article here.