Communications in Information Literacy, Vol 6, No 1 (2012)

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Information Literacy on the Web: How College Students Use Visual and Textual Cues to Assess Credibility on Health Websites

Katrina L. Pariera


One of the most important literacy skills in today’s information society is the ability to determine the credibility of online information. Users sort through a staggering number of websites while discerning which will provide satisfactory information. In this study, 70 college students assessed the credibility of health websites with a low and high design quality, in either low or high credibility groups. The study’s purpose was to understand if students relied more on textual or visual cues in determining credibility, and to understand if this affected their recall of those cues later. The results indicate that when viewing a high credibility website, high design quality will bolster the credibility perception, but design quality will not compensate for a low credibility website. The recall test also indicated that credibility does impact the participants’ recall of visual and textual cues. Implications are discussed in light of the Elaboration Likelihood Model.

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