The effect of comment moderation on perceived bias in science news

Sara K. Yeo, Leona Yi Fan Su, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique Brossard, Michael A. Xenos, Elizabeth Corley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Uncivil comments following online news articles about issues of science and technology have been shown to lead to biased interpretations of the news content itself. Using an experiment embedded in a nationally representative survey, we provide evidence that cues about comment moderation ‒ even without any change in the comments themselves ‒ have the potential to alleviate this so-called nasty effect. Participants exposed to uncivil comments that appear in a moderated environment were less likely to perceive bias in the news article itself. Importantly, perceptions of bias among respondents exposed to the uncivil, moderated stimulus were comparable to those of respondents who viewed both moderated and unmoderated civil comments. Our results suggest that visible cues about comment moderation are a potentially valuable endeavor for news organizations, especially in an age of declining profit margins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-146
Number of pages18
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019


  • Nasty effect
  • comment moderation
  • incivility
  • online comments
  • perceived bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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