Perceptions of Opinion Climate in Online Comments and Among the General Public: Examining the Roles of Personal Opinion, Political Knowledge, and Comment Reading

Ki Deuk Hyun, Nakwon Jung, Mihye Seo


This study examines whether three factors reported to affect opinion climate perceptions—personal opinion, political knowledge, and comment reading—have equivalent roles in predicting opinion perceptions in the comment sections of news sites and among the public. An online survey of 1,315 respondents was conducted in South Korea, where two popular portal news sites, Naver and Daum, had contrasting user comment stances toward the Korean president. We found that personal support for the president was positively associated with perceived public support (projection) but was negatively associated with perceived support in the comment sections (hostile opinion perception). Political knowledge was positively related to accurate perceptions of opinion distributions in the comment sections and among the general public. Reading user comments was positively related to perceptions of the opinion climate in the comment section and, to a lesser degree, to the population in line with the comment opinion distributions in the comment sections.


hostile media perception, online news, projection, public opinion perception, user comments

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