A button mockup that says 'Respect Post', it has a handshake icon.

Respect Button

Decrease partisan behavior

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What It Is

A button in place of (or possibly in addition to) a "like" button next to a post or comment.

Civic Signal Being Amplified

Build bridges between groups

When To Use It


What Is Its Intended Impact

Using a "respect" instead of a "like" button can change the behavior of partisans - or others with strong political views - to less often signal support for comments and views that align with their beliefs (or feel warmly toward) and instead acknowledge the value of a comment or view, regardless of whether they agree with it.

Evidence That It Works

Evidence That It Works

Stroud et al. (2017) conducted an online survey experiment in which participants read an article about right-to-work laws or gay rights and then viewed a simulated comments section with comments supporting or opposing the issue they just read about.

All participants were able to leave their own comment or click a button next to other comments that either said "like", "recommend" or "respect". In some cases (participants who supported the right to work), users were less likely to "respect" comments that aligned with their views compared to similar participants who had the option to "like" comments (p<0.05). In other cases (participants who support gay rights) users were more likely to "respect" opposing comments than those who could "like" them (p<0.1).

This study suggests that, as the authors put it, choice of words matter, and that changing a word can likewise change users' behavior. It is worth noting, however, that the study did not see results in all circumstances: right to work opposers were not (significantly) more likely to "respect" comments supporting right to work and gay rights opponents were also not less likely to "respect" comments opposed to gay rights. Moreover, a “respect” button did not change users' interaction with comments that opposed the right to work or favored gay rights.

The study also did not test the effect of adding a Respect button alongside other buttons (such as a like), as opposed to using a Respect button in place of a like button. Neither did it test any downstream effects, such as mitigating polarized attitudes.

Nonetheless, when we observe the results overall, they are persuasive that a "respect" button results in less partisan behavior.

Why It Matters

While there isn't consensus on whether and in which ways social media leads to greater polarization, design choices present an opportunity to counter behavior that may exacerbate existing polarization. In this case, a respect button may reduce users' inclination to merely signal their alignment with their political group's belief and instead acknowledge comments that have other merits.

On platforms that use such signals to up-rank posts and comments, the result could be the greater amplification of higher quality - as opposed to merely partisan - content.

Special Considerations


This intervention entry currently lacks photographic evidence (screencaps, &c.)


Like, recommend, or respect? Altering political behavior in news comment sections

N. Stroud, Ashley Muddiman, Joshua M. Scacco
New Media & Society
April 20, 2016

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