‘Liking’ an article may mean less time spent reading it, study finds

People spend more time reading articles that agree with their views as opposed to articles that disagree with their views, the study showed.

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A study by Ohio State University showed that when users have the option to click a ‘like’ button on media articles online, they actually spend less time reading the text.

Researchers found that people spent about 7% less time reading articles on controversial topics when they could upvote or downvote them, than when there was no interactive element. This was published as a study titled ‘Computers in Human Behavior’.

The trend was strongest when an article agreed with the reader’s point of view, especially on controversial topics like gun control and abortion.

When people are voting, they’re expressing themselves. They are then focused more on their own thoughts and less on the content of the article, a researcher stated.

The study involved 235 college students. Before the study, the researchers measured their views on four controversial topics used in the experiment: abortion, welfare benefits, gun control and affirmative action.

Participants were then shown four versions of an online news website created for the study on each of the controversial topics. Some articles had the up and down arrow buttons, while others did not.

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Participants spent more time reading articles that agreed with their views (about 1.5 minutes) than opposing views (less than a minute). But they spent about 12 seconds less time reading the articles they agreed with if they could vote.

When participants were able to vote, their voting behavior was as influential as their reading time. Even if they stopped reading and upvoted an article, their attitudes still became stronger.

Researchers concluded that other forms of engagement like comments can improve readership.


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