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On contemporary online news sites, readers are simultaneously exposed to journalistic articles and social reactions toward these messages. Two online experiments (N = 252) addressed whether negative user reactions can attenuate the persuasive influence of the main article, and whether these effects depend on the reputation of the original source. Results showed a selective consideration of user-generated content: Readers took into account comments with high argument quality and ratings of a credible website but did not follow others’ opinions if the comments merely contained subjective evaluations. On less reputable websites, user reactions were less influential. Findings are discussed with regard to the interplay of multiple sources.


This article was originally published in SCM Studies in Communication and Media, volume 6, issue 3, in 2017. DOI: 10.5771/2192-4007-2017-3-240


Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG

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