How replacing the “like” by a “respect” button reduced the level of incivility

Oct 01, 2013

It is easy to respect those who share your views. It is difficult to respect those who don’t. First step to open a discussion is to show respect to the people who don’t share the same opinion and views as you.

There’s an interesting idea behind the experiment led by Talia Stroud, professor of communication studies at the University of Texas, Austin.

Stroud wanted to know if it was possible to reduce the level of incivility by altering the wording of the “like” button and increasing a reporter’s involvement in active discussions. Over the course of her study, she found measurable trends towards openness to counter-attitudinal ideas just by switching the “like” or “recommend” button with “respect.”

It became clear that people were much more likely to click on opposing viewpoints with the “respect” button in place, and in fact, it led to more interaction in the comments section in general.

For example, in a comments section with eight comments, people clicked “recommend” an average of 1.5 times, while they clicked “respect” an average of 1.8 times. “You wouldn’t like a comment that held a totally different view than your own, and I understand why,” she says. “It sounds like you support of it and approve and agree with it.”

Respect, on the other hand, is more neutral and doesn’t carry connotations of concurrence.

As Voltaire said, “uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.”
That said, I’m open if you don’t share the same view 😀