Heuristic versus systematic processing of specialist versus generalist sources in online media

Yoon Jeon Koh, S. Shyam Sundar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

In exploring why specialist sources (e.g., CNN.com) are more persuasive than generalist sources (e.g., CBS.com), this study examines theoretical mechanisms related to information-processing differences caused by these sources. When we have a chain of sources (Websites and agents) in online media, does specialization of one of them bias the processing of underlying information? Does it trigger the authority heuristic and promote heuristic, rather than systematic, processing? If so, does it affect affective trust more than cognitive trust? An experiment (N = 140) was conducted with an online wine shopping task. Participants showed greater trust in Website, Web agent, and product descriptions when exposed to a specialist Web agent than to a generalist Web agent. Theoretical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-124
Number of pages22
JournalHuman Communication Research
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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