Resistance to masks during the COVID-19 pandemic : How user comments drive psychological reactance to health campaigns

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationHealth Communication
Publication statusOnline published - 21 Nov 2022


Campaigns for mask-wearing have become widespread on digital platforms during the COVID-19 out-break and have garnered varied responses in the form of comments. The present study conducts a 2 (comment position: pro-mask wearing vs. anti-mask wearing) × 2 (comment tone: civil vs. uncivil) between-subjects experiment to investigate whether and how the position and tone of comments accompanying a health campaign on social media affect people’s psychological reactance toward the campaign. The results show that although anti-mask wearing comments following a social media mask- promoting post provoke individuals’ perception about others’ disapproval of the post, the perception did not trigger the individuals’ psychological reactance to the post. Nevertheless, uncivil comments elicit anger, which arouses reactance and cause persuasion failure.