The authors investigated the effects of reading different types of online comments about a company on people's attitude change based on individual's prior attitude toward the company. Based on Social Judgment Theory, several hypotheses were tested. The results showed that the effects of online comments interact with individuals' prior attitudes toward a corporation. People with a strong negative attitude toward a corporation were less influenced by other's online comments than people with a neutral attitude in general. However, people with a prior negative attitude were more affected by refutational two-sided comments than one-sided comments. The results suggest that the effects of user generated content should be studied in a holistic manner, not only by investigating the effects of online content itself, but also by examining how others' responses to the content shape or change individuals' attitudes based on their prior attitudes.
Keywords: effects of online comments; prior attitudes; social media.