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Age differences in making credibility judgments of online health information

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Title: Age differences in making credibility judgments of online health information
Author(s): Liao, Qingzi
Advisor(s): Fu, Wai-Tat
Department / Program: Institute of Aviation
Discipline: Human Factors
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: M.S.
Genre: Thesis
Subject(s): Web credibility aging online health information
Abstract: Older adults constitute a notable group among the exponentially growing population of online health information consumers. To better support their consumption of high quality health information on the Internet, it is important to understand how older adults make credibility judgments of online health information. For this purpose, I conducted two laboratory studies to explore how the credibility cues in message contents, website features and user reviews, which are widely used for online medication information, could differentially impact younger (19 to 26 years of age) and older adults’ (58 to 80 years of age) credibility judgments. Results from the first experiment showed that older adults, compared to younger ones, were less sensitive to the credibility cues in message contents(as to differentiate between credible ones and non-credible ones), as well as those in the website features. In the second experiment, I tested whether the addition of user reviews could moderate the age differences in credibility judgments. Results showed that user reviews that were consistent with the credibility cues in message contents could more significantly reinforce older adults’ credibility judgments than that of younger adults’. However, when user reviews were inconsistent with the credibility of message contents, older adults seemed to be less swayed than younger adults. In addition, I found that decline in cognitive abilities and lack of Internet experience were two important factors that limit older adults’ ability to correctly judge the credibility of online medication information, while individual’s better health domain knowledge could possibly compensate for older adults’ ability of making correct credibility judgment. Their inexperience with the Internet, and perhaps especially with Web 2.0 applications, was found to be a major factor that influenced their susceptibility to user reviews conveying inconsistent information. These results provided implications for designing health information websites that better support older adults’ credibility judgments.
Issue Date: 2012-02-06
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/29689
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Qingzi Liao
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-02-06
Date Deposited: 2011-12
 

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