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Does reading the comments affect your judgment?

Epic fail – a new study has revealed that rude Internet comments warp the way you feel. As two of the report's authors reveal in the New York Times, the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication recently decided to explore what it refers to as "the nasty effect." And if you've ever read the comments beneath a feature story or a YouTube video, the phrase needs no explanation.

The researchers showed 1,183 readers a fictitious technology story, then had them read the equally fictitious comments. Though both groups' comments featured equal measures of criticism, skepticism and enthusiasm for the piece, one group's was "civil" while the other's was "rude" – peppered with cursing and epithets. And as the results showed, "Those exposed to rude comments … ended up with a much more polarized understanding … Simply including an ad hominem attack in a reader comment was enough to make study participants think the downside of the reported technology was greater than they'd previously thought." In other words, the "this sucks" chorus becomes the voice in a reader's own head.

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