Search engines are the primary gatekeepers of online information, but are judged differently than traditional gatekeepers due to the interactive and impersonal nature of the online search process. The researcher distributed an online survey with 141 respondents and conducted 22 observational interviews. Information credibility was tested through measures of expertise, goodwill, and trustworthiness, which were each correlated with perceived reputation and perceived aesthetics. Search engine reputation was found to have moderate correlations with expertise and trustworthiness, and a lesser, but still moderate correlation with goodwill. Aesthetics was related to the credibility measures in similar but lesser proportions. Interviews indicated search habits such as wariness towards commercial interests and the high impact of search intent on the rigor of credibility judgments.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Web search engines--Public opinion; Truthfulness and falsehood; Information literacy
Department, Program, or Center
Department of Communication (CLA)
Christiansen, Bryan, "Effects of reputation and aesthetics on the credibility of search engine results" (2013). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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