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

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Department of Communication (CLA)


Martin, Kelly

Advisor/Committee Member

Lee, Ki-Young


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: TK5105.884 .C47 2013


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes