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Promoting online deliberation quality: cognitive cues matter

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This research aims to contribute to the theory and practice of e-participation, looking specifically at ways to enhance the deliberative quality of political discussions in online forums. Building on theories of information processing and social norms, we suggest that particular visual banners may be integrated in an online forum, and serve as cues that prime participants to think about the context as a place of public deliberation. In turn, we hypothesize that these cues would promote the deliberative quality of the discussion. To test our hypotheses, we conducted a controlled experiment where cues were integrated as visuals banners alongside the content of an online discussion forum. Content analysis of forum comments (N = 476) included measures for reasoned opinion expression as well as indicators of listening and respecting others’ opinions. Findings support the study's hypotheses that deliberative cues matter for online deliberation. We discuss the findings and outline directions for future research.
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Keywords: cues; e-democracy; e-government; information processing; online deliberation; online forums

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Communication, Netanya Academic College, Netanya, Israel 2: School of Communication, Ariel University, Ariel, Israel

Publication date: November 26, 2014

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