The “Nasty Effect:” Online Incivility and Risk Perceptions of Emerging Technologies

Anderson, Ashley A.; Brossard, Dominique; Scheufele, Dietram A.; Xenos, Michael A.; Ladwig, Peter
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

Uncivil discourse is a growing concern in American rhetoric, and this trend has expanded beyond traditional media to online sources, such as audience comments. Using an experiment given to a sample representative of the U.S. population, we examine the effects online incivility on perceptions toward a particular issue—namely, an emerging technology, nanotechnology. We found that exposure to uncivil blog comments can polarize risk perceptions of nanotechnology along the lines of religiosity and issue support.