Third-person perception of online comments: Civil ones persuade you more than me

Gina Masullo Chen, Yee Man Margaret Ng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using online comments posted on news stories as the context, this study aimed to examine the interplay between the third-person perception (TPP) - that people believe media message have a greater effect on changing the attitudes of others compared with themselves - and online incivility. It also examined whether people's agreement with the content of the comments would influence the TPP. Results of an experiment (N = 301) showed incivility muted the persuasive effect of online comments, so only civil comments produced a TPP, whereby people felt comments had greater persuasive power over others compared with themselves. However, counter to predictions, whether people agreed with the comments did not influence the TPP. Findings also supported the TPP social distance corollary such that subjects perceived comments as having the largest third-person perceptual gap between the self and those who disagreed with them. Results are discussed in relation to TPP and face and politeness theories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-742
Number of pages7
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Face theory
  • Incivility
  • Online news
  • Persuasion
  • Politeness theory
  • Third-person perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Third-person perception of online comments: Civil ones persuade you more than me'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this