Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not as Web savvy as you think? Young people give Google, other top brand search results too much credibility, study finds

Date:
July 28, 2010
Source:
Northwestern University
Summary:
College students trust Google so much that a study has found many students only click on websites that turn up at the top of Google searches to complete assigned tasks. If they don't use Google, researchers found that students trust other brand-name search engines and brand-name websites to lead them to information.

Google it. That's what many college students do when asked to read an excerpt of a play for class, write a resume or find the e-mail address of a politician.

They trust Google so much that a Northwestern University study has found many students only click on websites that turn up at the top of Google searches to complete assigned tasks. If they don't use Google, researchers found that students trust other brand-name search engines and brand-name websites to lead them to information.

The study was published by the International Journal of Communication.

"Many students think, 'Google placed it number one, so, of course it's credible,'" said Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies at Northwestern. "This is potentially tricky because Google doesn't rank a site by its credibility."

In the published, study 102 students at the University of Illinois at Chicago sat at computers with researchers. Each student was asked to bring up the page that's usually on their screen when they start using the Web.

The activity on their screens was captured on video as researchers gave the students a variety of hypothetical information-seeking tasks to perform online. Time and again, researchers watched students navigate to brand-name search engines--usually Google--and to brand-name websites to find information. Researchers also asked students questions about websites they chose.

After using Google to get to a website, this interaction occurred between a researcher and a study participant:

Researcher: "What is this website?"

Student: "Oh, I don't know. The first thing that came up."

"Search engine rankings seem extremely important," Hargittai said. "We found that a website's layout or content almost didn't even matter to the students. What mattered is that it was the number one result on Google."

Aside from Google, other online brands that students mentioned most often to complete tasks were: Yahoo!, SparkNotes, MapQuest, Microsoft, Wikipedia, AOL and Facebook.

Some of the students did give more credibility to websites ending in dot-gov, dot-edu or dot-org. However, Hargittai said most didn't know dot-org domain names could be registered by anyone, and thus are not inherently different from dot-com sites.

"Just because younger people grew up with the Web doesn't mean they're universally savvy with it," Hargittai said. "Educators should show specific websites in class and talk about why a source is or isn't credible."

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supported the research.

The title of the paper is "Trust Online: Young Adults' Evaluation of Web Content." In addition to Hargittai (senior author), other authors of the paper are Lindsay Fullerton, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, and Kristin Yates Thomas, all PhD candidates at Northwestern.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern University. The original article was written by Erin White. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern University. "Not as Web savvy as you think? Young people give Google, other top brand search results too much credibility, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100726162121.htm>.
Northwestern University. (2010, July 28). Not as Web savvy as you think? Young people give Google, other top brand search results too much credibility, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100726162121.htm
Northwestern University. "Not as Web savvy as you think? Young people give Google, other top brand search results too much credibility, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100726162121.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Computers & Math News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Much Privacy Protection Will Google's Android L Provide?

How Much Privacy Protection Will Google's Android L Provide?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Google's local encryption will make it harder for law enforcement or malicious actors to access the contents of devices running Android L. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What HealthKit Bug Means For Your iOS Fitness Apps

What HealthKit Bug Means For Your iOS Fitness Apps

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple has delayed the launch of the HealthKit app platform, citing a bug. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) Apple's new operating system, iOS 8, comes with Apple's killswitch feature already activated, unlike all the models before it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins