Title

THE EFFECTS OF ONLINE COMMENTARY ON USERS’ INFORMATION PROCESSING IN THE CONTEXT OF ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUMS

Abstract

Online discussion forum, which plays an important role in online criticism, provides useful

information such as online commentaries generated by other users. The paper uses regulatory focus

theory to explain how online commentaries are processed differently depending on the user’s

information processing style and how each self-regulatory mode moderates the impact of online

commentaries on one’s overall evaluation of information. The study produces three major findings:

(1) Promotion-focused users are more likely to distort online information than prevention-focused

users do, (2) With hedonic information, information distortion will be stronger for promotion-focused

users as compared to prevention-focused users, (3) With utilitarian information, information

distortion will be stronger for prevention-focused people as compared to promotion-focused users.

These finding have implications for online discussion forums in terms of how to manage users

effectively and also how to prevent unintended criticism.

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