The influence of source credibility on adolescents’ information processing
Wilde, S. De
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Adolescents read and use information from the internet on a daily basis. When reading informative texts, it is important to consider the credibility of the source. Information sources can either be credible or non-credible. A credible source is trustworthy and has the right expertise (Danielson, 2006). Previous research by Geelhand de Merxem (2015) showed that adults use a different processing strategy for reading information that is given by a credible source compared to a non-credible source. Information containing a credible source was processed more carefully. Effects of source credibility on the on-line processing of texts by adolescents has not yet been researched. However, some studies claim that adolescents cannot distinguish between credible and non-credible sources based on off-line tasks or intervention studies (e.g. McGrew et al., 2017). The current study examines the influence of source credibility on adolescents’ information processing and the influence of typographical cues on the processing strategy. During an eye-tracking experiment, adolescents read short news items containing a source (credible or non-credible) who made a claim about a topic. In half of the items sources were presented with a typographical cue, to examine whether marking of the source influenced the processing strategy. Results showed that adolescents were only able to distinguish credible from non-credible sources at the end of the sentence that included the source’s opinion and only during the second half of the trials in the experiment, suggesting a training effect. Typographical cues did not direct adolescents to consider the credibility of the source when processing an informative text.