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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton October 3, 2017

User comments about research findings: How conflictual information in online science journalistic articles influences laypeople’s understanding of scientific tentativeness

  • Danny Flemming EMAIL logo , Insa Feinkohl , Ulrike Cress and Joachim Kimmerle
From the journal Communications


This study investigated whether conflictual information about novel medical findings in online newspaper articles affected laypeople’s perception of tentativeness, their attitude toward, and fear of, the medical procedure in question. For this purpose, we rated the user comments from all available online newspaper articles about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). Multilevel regressions revealed that higher levels of conflictual information in the articles were associated with higher levels of expressed tentativeness and a more negative attitude toward DBS expressed in the user comments. No significant relationship with expressed fear of DBS was found. We conclude that journalistic preparation and style is directly associated with readers’ perception of tentativeness and opinion formation and discuss suggestions for journalistic presentation of scientific information.

Published Online: 2017-10-3
Published in Print: 2017-11-27

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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