Building on existing theoretical frameworks for the study of incivility, interactivity, and negativity bias, this study contributes to the growing body of literature on the impact of incivility in online comments. Specifically, it tests incivility’s impact on news engagement intentions; investigates political and personality predispositions’ roles as perceptual filters; and extends this scholarship to the context of multiple scientific news topics. It found that, when dealing with news about two of the more politically divisive technologies—fracking and synthetic biology—ideology moderated the effects of incivility, with uncivil comments encouraging engagement among conservatives but not among liberals. However, in the less politically divisive context of nanotechnology, self-monitoring played a significant role in moderating incivility’s effects: with high self-monitors being more motivated, and low self-monitors less motivated, to share nanotech news after exposure to uncivil comments. These results imply that individual predispositions and topic-specific factors both underlie the impact of incivility on news engagement intentions.
- negativity bias
- online comments
- science communication
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science