What Makes People Attend to and Trust Science and Scientific Experts in Online Contexts?

What Makes People Attend to and Trust Science and Scientific Experts in Online Contexts?

Author: Friederike Hendriks – University of Münster, Germany


  • Danny Flemming – Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, Germany
  • Asheley R. Landrum – Texas Tech University, United States
  • Anne Reif – TU Braunschweig, Germany
  • Aviv J. Sharon – Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
  • Sara K. Yeo – University of Utah, United States

In current controversial public debates (e.g., about climate change, vaccination), people discuss how the future of our societies and our relationship with technology should be shaped, and many of these debates proceed in online environments. While some people refer to scientific evidence and arguments, and also demand that science–as a system generating relevant knowledge for solving today’s problems–should be trusted, others neglect scientific arguments and evidence, or actively voice their distrust in science and technological developments. In this session, we raise the question of what makes people attend to and trust scientific information and scientific experts in online contexts.

The first three papers investigate important factors of how individuals seek online information and which experts they perceive as trustworthy. Landrum et al. investigate the influence of gender and science curiosity on accessing scientific content on YouTube; Sharon et al. focus on the influence of an information seeker’s personal stance toward a topic for trustworthiness ratings of experts during information seeking in forums; and Yeo finds that not only a humorous presentation, but also source expertise explains how much people perceive comedy a valid source of scientific information. The final two presentations more broadly investigate factors that might benefit individuals’ acceptance of scientific information and trust in science: Flemming et al. introduce refutation texts as a means to enhance the acceptance of uncertainty in scientific communication, while Taddicken et al. investigate with a representative survey how individuals’ trust, knowledge and online use contribute to their problem awareness of climate change.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Linked papers
Theme: Time