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Factors Affecting Credibility in the Blogosphere
Transcript of Factors Affecting Credibility in the Blogosphere
University of Texas at Austin
Showing our Work
April 28, 2010 ABSTRACT This study uses an experimental method to test the effect of different factors, including the race of a blogger, on audience perceptions of credibility of blogs. No significant differences in perceived credibility were found between Black and White bloggers, though including information on the blogger (picture and biography) increased perceived credibility. Issue salience (how entertaining, important, relevant, etc.) was also correlated with higher perceived credibility. Credibility “Credibility is, after all, the most important things
a communicator has. A communicator in the
news media who lacks credibility probably also
has no audience,” (Severin & Tankard, 2001). “No major news outlet - whether broadcast
or cable, print or online - stands out as
particularly credible,” (Pew, 2008). Credibility in the Blogosphere In the realm of mass media, credibility is often synonymous with believability (Hovland & Weiss, 1951; Klr2ekremg. A. Johnson & Wiedenbeck, 2009; Severin & Tankard, 2001). 6.8 million people read a blog each day, some of the most popular of which being news oriented
Online news as well as blogs are becoming more important in the overall news agenda (Pew, 2010).
Bloggers carry a “journalistic pedigree”, with 35% in one study reporting that they have worked within traditional media as a writer, reporter, producer, or on-air personality and 27% of responding bloggers continue to work in the traditional media (Sussman, 2009).
Reliance on blogs has been correlated with higher ratings of credibility (T. J. Johnson & Kaye, 2000).
Those who use the Internet heavily were found to rate online information as more credible (T. Johnson & Kaye, 2006).
Blog Information seeking (in contrast to personal fulfillment/leisure use of blogs) was reported as a greater predictor of high ratings of credibility (Kaye, 2005).
The Case for Race in Source Credibility Studies that look at the perception of credibility based on the race of the source of news information are rare and in the case of the blogosphere, practically nonexistent. Hypotheses H1: Heavy blog readers will rate the bloggers more credible than light readers of blogs.
H2: Blog readers who use blogs for information seeking will rate bloggers more credible than blog readers who do not use blogs for information seeking.
H3: Readers will find bloggers more credible when they find the blog topic more salient than when the topic is less salient.
H4: Bloggers that include photographs combined with biographies will be rated more credible than bloggers who do not include photographs combined with biographies.
H5: Black bloggers will be rated less credible than White bloggers.
Method Experimental method with 65 participants.
All participants read the same three blogs, one each with a black blogger with a bio paragraph, one with a white blogger with bio paragraph, and one with no information on the blogger provided. Inner group variation was employed and which condition assigned to which blog was randomized. ECONOMICS LEGAL HEALTH Results Measuring Credibility Measuring Heavey/Light Blog User Measuring Salience Measuring Information Blog Use Measurements Number of hours in a typical week spent reading blogs
number of different blogs they read at least once a week
trustworthy, believable, reliable, authoritative, accurate, honest, biased, complete, credible, knowledgeable, dynamic, and informative (Chronbach’s alpha = .82). how often they used blogs to check accuracy of other media, to use as ammunition in argument with others, for information not found in traditional media, compare online accounts to traditional media, to keep up with the main issues of the day, to make up my mind on important issues, to access information from work, to access information quickly, to be informed, and to find specific information, and to seek general information (Cronbach’s alpha = .92). interesting, important, relevant, and enjoyable they
found the blog as well as how likely they would be to
read an additional post on the topic (Cronbach’s alpha = .82). H1 NOT SUPPORTED- No difference found in credibility scores between heavy blog readers and light blog readers H2 NOT SUPPORTED- No differences found in credibility scores for those who use blogs for information seeking H3 SUPPORTED- Participants found blogs more credible when they found the blog topic more salient H4 SUPPORTED- Bloggers that included photo along with biographical information were found more credible than when no information on the blogger was provided H4 NOT SUPPORTED- No differences found in credibility scores between White and Black Bloggers
Yes sd = .75, No sd = .92, t = -3.24, df = 109, p = .002 SD High Low
Econ .52 .71
Legal .63 .80
Health .77 .94
t df p
Economics -2.99 63 .004
Legal -2.02 61 .048
Health -2.21 63 .031 Discussions LIMITATIONS
artificial lab setting
relatively small sample size
homogenious sample (age, race/ethnicity, SES, etc.)
more professional "real-world" blogs could be used FUTURE RESEARCH and IMPLICATIONS
Strong support for including background biographical information for bloggers. This is the real-world practice of many blogs on NY Times website as well as Huffington Post, etc.
While race not found to affect credibility, still strong support in real life settings of hiring practices, home morgage lending and medical treatment that decisions and assessments are made based on race
Look into specific physical attributes of bloggers that affect credibility
Diversify subject pool
Separate biography from picture to find which affects credibility more
Look at different races other than Black/White
Look at specific components contained within biography (expertise, etc.)
Study relationship between race of blogger and race of blog reader