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The influence of user- and text characteristics on source evaluation during Web search

Multimodale Interaction Lab
Budget resources of IWM
Project description

The WWW is characterized by an unprecedented amount of information and a high heterogeneity of information quality. For a successful information search, for example, about a conflicting science-related or medical issue, thus, it is often important to evaluate the information sources regarding their trustworthiness and to compare and weigh (potentially conflicting) information from multiple sources. In this project we investigated through eyetracking analyses and log file data, verbal protocols, as well as argumentative summaries how Web users evaluate and process information during Web search about conflicting topics. Specifically, the project aimed at examining how certain user characteristics and certain text characteristics influence source evaluations during Web search.

eye-tracking analysis

With regard to user characteristics, the focus was on Web users' domain-specific prior knowledge and epistemic beliefs. We not only aimed at showing that Web users with high prior knowledge and/or appropriate epistemic beliefs evaluate and compare Web information more critically and in a more elaborate way than searchers with less favorable prerequisites, but also at examining the underlying mechanisms of the evaluation- and comparison processes.
With regard to text characteristics, therefore we aimed at analyzing, on the process level how certain source cues on search engine results pages and Web pages as well as content-based discrepancies between Web pages trigger evaluation processes depending on the individual prerequisites of the users.


Prof. Ladislao Salmerón, Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Valencia

Prof. Ivar Bråten, Prof. Helge Strømsø, Department of Educational Research, University of Oslo

Prof. Saskia Brand-Gruwel, Welten Institute – Research Centre for Learning, Teaching and Technology, Open University of the Netherlands


Kammerer, Y., Bråten, I., Gerjets, P., & Strømsø, H. (2013). The role of Internet-specific epistemic beliefs in laypersons' source evaluations and decisions during Web search on a medical issue. Computers in Human Behavior, 29, 1193-1203.

Kammerer, Y., & Gerjets, P. (2014). The role of search result position and source trustworthiness in the selection of Web search results when using a list or a grid interface. International Journal of Human-Computer-Interaction, 30, 177-191.

Kammerer, Y., Kalbfell, E., & Gerjets, P. (2016). Is this information source commercially biased? How contradictions between web pages stimulate the consideration of source information. Discourse Processes, 53, 430-456.