Scientists vs laypeople: How genetically modified food is discussed on a Chinese Q&A website | J Liang, X Liu, W Zhang | Public Understanding of Science

This study examines messages contributed by scientists and laypeople to an online discussion about genetically modified food in China with the aim to understand whether and how scientists and laypeople apply different communication strategies with regard to framing, interaction features, and writing style. Both answers (N = 100) and comments (N = 2416) related to genetically modified food on Zhihu, the most popular social Q&A site in China, were analyzed. The analysis reveals that though there were no significant attitude differences between scientists and laypeople, the two groups tended to frame genetically modified food from quite different perspectives. Also, although scientist users were not perfect rationalists during online discussions, they were more likely to be both high-quality content contributors and active discussion facilitators.

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