Engagement with social media posts in experimental and naturalistic settings: how do message incongruence and incivility influence commenting? Articles uri icon

publication date

  • October 2022

start page

  • 5086

end page

  • 5109


  • 16

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1932-8036


  • Research on factors that encourage people to speak out online uses either experimental
    or observational data, and it is unclear whether patterns detected in one setting apply to
    the other. This project examines whether message incongruence and incivility influence
    the likelihood of commenting on social media posts about politics in both controlled and
    naturalistic settings. An online experiment on American adults using a mock Facebook
    page (Study 1, N = 424) showed that incivility decreased commenting when the original
    comment was pro-attitudinal but had no effects when it was counter-attitudinal and that
    incivility directly depressed commenting (i.e., unmediated via anger), but increased it
    indirectly through anger. An observational study on Spanish Twitter users (Study 2, N
    tweets = 4,153) demonstrated that in a naturalistic setting, there were more pro- than
    counter-attitudinal comments in response to the original tweet, and incivility was not
    associated with the desire to speak out. The implications are discussed.


  • political expression; message incongruence; incivility; social media; anger; third-person effect