Effects of Moderation and Opinion Heterogeneity on Attitude towards the Online Deliberation Experience

Simon T. Perrault, Weiyu Zhang

Online deliberation offers a way for citizens to collectively discuss an issue and provide input for policy makers. The overall experience of online deliberation can be affected by multiple factors. We decided to investigate the effects of moderation and opinion heterogeneity on the perceived deliberation experience, by running the first online deliberation experiment in Singapore. Our study took place in three months with three phases. In phase 1, our 2,006 participants answered a survey, that we used to create groups of different opinion heterogeneity. During the second phase, 510 participants discussed about the population issue on the online platform we developed. We gathered data on their online deliberation experience during phase 3. We found out that higher levels of moderation negatively impact the experience of deliberation on perceived procedural fairness, validity claim and policy legitimacy; and that high opinion heterogeneity is important in order to get a fair assessment of the deliberation experience.

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