How You Find a Site Helps Determine Its Credibility

Four professors at Northwestern University recently found that the process by which users arrive at a web site is an important factor in how they judge the credibility of the final destination. Such factors include:
woman in laptop

  • Reliance on one’s network
  • Search context: people trust the top result in Google, and typically do not verify or validate the source of the result
  • Branding and routines: people tend to use the same, branded research tool most of the time. Examples in the study include: Wikipedia, Google, SparkNotes. People tend to use specific brands for certain tasks, such as MapQuest or Chicago Transit Authority to find directions, rather than going through a search engine, such as Google.

The authors of the study are:

  • Eszter Hargittai
  • Lindsay Fullerton
  • Ericka Menchen-Trevino
  • Kristin Yates Thomas

You can find the study here.

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