A Click Is Worth a Thousand Words: Probing the Predictors of Using Click Speech for Online Opinion Expression

Tai-Yee Wu, Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch, David Atkin


This study investigates user willingness to use various types of click speech—commenting, giving a thumbs-up and/or thumbs-down, and sharing—for online opinion expression. Drawing from spiral of silence theory, results (N = 339) indicate that state-based fear of isolation is generally a negative predictor of opinion expression. Moreover, an unfavorable opinion climate reduces one’s willingness to comment and give other commenters a thumbs-up, but remarkably encourages the tendency to give a thumbs-down. Support from family also fosters the use of a thumbs-down button. In addition, perceived online anonymity facilitates commenting, and perceived congruity with the reported opinion in news and issue involvement motivate news sharing. The diverse types of click speech thus demonstrate that opinion expression in cyberspace ranges from the more explicit verbal commenting to the more implicit endorsement and disapproval, expanding the applicability of spiral of silence theory and its related concepts to modern online communication.


click speech, online news comments, spiral of silence, paralinguistic digital affordances, news sharing, opinion expression

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