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Social and Heuristic Approaches to Credibility Evaluation Online


Miriam J. Metzger; e-mail:


The tremendous amount of information available online has resulted in considerable research on information and source credibility. The vast majority of scholars, however, assume that individuals work in isolation to form credibility opinions and that people must assess information credibility in an effortful and time-consuming manner. Focus group data from 109 participants were used to examine these assumptions. Results show that most users rely on others to make credibility assessments, often through the use of group-based tools. Results also indicate that rather than systematically processing information, participants routinely invoked cognitive heuristics to evaluate the credibility of information and sources online. These findings are leveraged to suggest a number of avenues for further credibility theorizing, research, and practice.