Do We Trust the Crowd? Effects of Crowdsourcing on Perceived Credibility of Online Health Information

Yan Huang, S. Shyam Sundar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Crowdsourcing websites such as Wikipedia have become go-to places for health information. To what extent do we trust such health content that is generated by other Internet users? Will it make a difference if such entries are curated by medical professionals? Does the affordance of crowdsourcing make users feel like they themselves could be contributors, and does that influence their credibility judgments? We explored these questions with a 2 (Crowdsourcing: absence vs. presence) × 2 (Professional source: absence vs. presence) × 2 (Message: sunscreen vs. milk) between-subjects experiment (N = 189). Two indirect paths for crowdsourcing effects were found. The crowd-as-source path suggests that crowdsourcing negatively affects content credibility through decreased source trustworthiness and information completeness. In contrast, the self-as-source path indicates that crowdsourcing elevates source trustworthiness via heightened interactivity and sense of control. Although the additional professional source raises perceived gatekeeping on the site, it does not have substantial influence on credibility judgments. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Communication
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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