Designing the rules of the online discussion: the role of “likes”



The article is dedicated to a study in the subject field of virtual digital communication. The intentional constituent of online interaction marked by “likes” (“thumbs up”), which represent non-verbal signs of approval typical of digital communication) was examined on the material of online discussions on politics and international relations. The research in question has been based on the materials of 2015: 302 online discussions comprising 27901 comments on infovenues such as,, Polit. Ru. The intentional analysis has been performed with the use of quantitative intent-analysis method of conflict political discourse by T.N. Ushakova and N.D. Pavlova modified by N.K. Radina. Consequently, the count of “likes” (“thumbs up”) given by participants of the discussion for a specific comment, which means that they were given for an intention, followed. There has been made a supposition that the “likes” (“thumbs up”) are intertwined with the communicative interactions in the online discussion which are typical (most frequent) in online cooperation. As a result, the study revealed that the “likes” (“thumbs up”) fortify the asymmetrical relations between the author of the comment and the Others (the author of the article, other authors of comments as well as third party actors). The participants of the discussion rival with the authors of the comments and the authors of the articles while seeking recognition with the “third party actors”. The “likes” (“thumbs up”) prove to be a tool for fortification of intentional scenarios of online communication as well as legitimization of constructed rules of digital interaction. Hence, the hypothesis has been confirmed. It has been supposed that virtual digital communication implies intermittent construction of rules for every digital community for a unique situation of interaction whereas the “likes” (“thumbs up”) serve as an instrument for securing constructed norms.

General Information

Keywords: virtual digital communication, rules of digital interaction, online discussion, “likes”

Journal rubric: Empirical Research

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The research was carried out with the financial support of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research within the framework of the scientific project № 16-06-00184-A.

For citation: Radina N.K. Designing the rules of the online discussion: the role of “likes”. Sotsial'naya psikhologiya i obshchestvo = Social Psychology and Society, 2019. Vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 58–76. DOI: 10.17759/sps.2019100405. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)



Information About the Authors

Nadezhda K. Radina, Doctor of Political Science, Professor, PhD in Psychology, Professor of the Department of General and Social Psychology, Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod — National Research University, Senior Research Fellow, Laboratory of Theory and Practice of Decision Support Systems (TAPRADESS), National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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