To comment or not to comment: Examining the influences of anonymity and social support on one’s willingness to express in online news discussions

Tai-Yee Wu*, David J. Atkin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examines the effects of online anonymity and different sources of social influence on the Spiral of Silence phenomenon in online news discussions about abortion. The results (N = 339) substantiated that technical anonymity predicts one’s perceived anonymity, but only the latter significantly increases one’s willingness to post personal opinions in the comment sections. Perceived support from other commenters was also found to reduce the online Spiral of Silence phenomenon. With fear of isolation, moreover, the state-based approach is verified to be more robust than the trait-like approach, advancing Noelle-Neumann’s original conceptualization. Study findings thus offer support for a more comprehensive conceptualization of Spiral of Silence components operating in online contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4512-4532
Number of pages21
JournalNew Media and Society
Volume20
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Abortion
  • Spiral of Silence
  • fear of isolation
  • online anonymity
  • online news comments
  • online social support
  • opinion expression

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