People Less Likely to Finish Reading Articles with Like and Dislike Buttons

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. upvote / ˈʌpˌvoʊt / (v) – to show agreement with something posted online by clicking an up arrow or similar icons

    With the new update, users can now upvote comments they agree with.

  2. contentious / kənˈtɛn ʃəs / (adj) – likely to cause an argument

    Emily has contentious opinions on education, so I try not to talk about it when she’s around.

  3. concur / kənˈkɜr / (v) – to agree with someone or something

    Will and I don’t get along well, but I concur with him when it comes to politics.

  4. engagement / ɪnˈgeɪdʒ mənt / (n) – the act of involving someone in an activity

    The celebrity tries to respond to her fans’ comments on her posts to increase engagement.

  5. thought-provoking / ˈθɑːt.prəˌvoʊk.ɪŋ / (adj) – causing people to have serious thoughts about something

    The film is so thought-provoking that I can’t stop thinking about what I would have done if I were the main character.


Read the text below.

A study by Ohio State University showed that when users have the option to upvote or downvote an article they see online, they tend to spend less time reading its content.

The study involved 235 college students. They were asked about their opinions on four contentious topics. Then, the researchers showed them four news articles, each focusing on one of the topics. Two versions allowed the students to express their views by clicking an up or down arrow, while the other two did not. The researchers then measured how long the participants spent on each article and whether or not they voted if they could.

The findings showed that if the students concurred with the opinions of a particular article, they spent more time reading it than articles that they disagreed with. They tended to spend about a minute and a half reading articles they agreed with and less than a minute on articles they disagreed with. Interestingly, the study also found that if the website allowed readers to vote, the students spent around 12 seconds less to read the article even if they agreed with it.

According to the researchers, having the option to vote on an article allows people to express their opinions on its content. Readers are focused on their own beliefs instead of the content, so they tend to not finish reading it. The researchers noted that some people even chose to vote on articles that they did not read at all.

To encourage people to finish reading articles, the researchers recommend that content creators use other forms of engagement, like including a comments section where people can write their opinions. They added that readers should not just click the “vote” button but also read the entire contents of an article and leave thought-provoking comments. The researchers believe that how people express themselves is important and can actually influence how they think about a topic.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• As a reader, what would encourage you to finish reading an article (e.g. a controversial/interesting topic, the author)? Discuss.
• What do you think are the pros and cons of allowing readers to write their comments about an article? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you think people should always express their opinions? Why or why not?
• How can people express their opinions while respecting others who have different views? Discuss.