The Effects of Reader Comments on the Perception of Personalized Scandals: Exploring the Roles of Comment Valence and Commenters’ Social Status

Christian von Sikorski


Reader comments posted below online news articles may affect a reader’s issue perception. However, it remains unknown how people are influenced by commenters’ social status information (high versus low). Potential effects were examined in a 2 (opposing/supporting/no comments) × 2 (high-status/low-status/no comments) between-subjects online experiment in connection with a mediated scandal. A multivariate analysis of covariance revealed that most of the effects—for example, on individuals’ scandal perception and their demanded punishments—were triggered by opposing comments and when high-status commenters had posted the comments. The effects of supporting comments were rather limited.


media effects, reader comments, social status, scandal scandal

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