How Authority-Related Epistemological Beliefs and Salience of Source Information Influence the Evaluation of Web Search Results – An Eye Tracking Study

Abstract

In this study we examined how authority-related epistemological beliefs (AREBs) affect the evaluation of web search results presented by a search engine. Moreover, we investigated whether increasing the salience of source information on a search engine result page fosters students’ evaluation processes, and whether the salience of source information moderates the effects of AREBs. Thirty university students participated in a web search experiment addressing a controversial search topic. Participants either used a standard Google search result list or an augmented search result list additionally containing source categories for each search result. Eye movements and mouse clicks were captured during information search. The results showed that the effects of participants’ AREBs on their gaze behavior were moderated by the salience of source information. Furthermore, salience of source information affected participants’ selection behavior, such that with additionally presented source categories they were more likely to select search results linked to web portals.


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