Differential perceptions of and reactions to incivil and intolerant user comments


Building on recent research that challenges the notion that norm violations in online discussions are inherently detrimental, this study relies on a distinction between incivil and intolerant user comments and investigates how online users perceive and react to these distinct forms of antinormative discourse online. Conducting a preregistered factorial survey experiment with a nationally representative sample of n = 964 German online users, we presented participants with manipulated user comments that included statements associated with incivil (profanity; attacks towards arguments) and intolerant discourse (offensive stereotyping; violent threats). The results show that intolerant statements consistently lead to higher perceptions of offensiveness and harm to society as well as an increased intention to delete the comment containing the statement, whereas incivil statements do not. An exploratory multiverse analysis further suggests that these effects remain robust across a variety of analytical decisions.



Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication