Here are the results of my survey that have to do with information preferences.
Top 5 reasons people would distrust information:
- Typos, poor grammar, generally poorly written or designed (32% of respondents)
- Source is unknown (28.5%)
- No citations, or information isn’t verified (27%)
- Source is known to be biased or is not credible (23%)
- Extremely biased or one-sided, “propaganda”-like (17.5%)
Other reasons: poor logic, political or religious viewpoint, “sales pitch”, dramatic or grand claims, overly emotional, information is known to be wrong.
Follow up questions:
- Does a source have to be “objective” to be trusted?
- If subtle emotional cues are used will the message still be trusted? How extreme does the emotional aspect have to be in order to be automatically distrusted? (emotions were specifically cited by only 4 people)
About trust of information
- People are less likely to trust websites because “anyone can put anything on a website” (a statement voiced many times by a variety of demographics)
- Published materials seems trustworthy—deemed most trustworthy by a strong majority (75%). Why? For some, because they assume there are editing or verification standards; for others, because of the high cost to print, or permanent nature of the material; for others, they are simply used to print or instinctively trust it.
- However, websites can be trustworthy too, if they are from a verified source.
- People with graduate degrees noted that it’s easy to verify information found on websites by checking other sources online. People without graduate degrees didn’t note this.
- Longer articles deemed more trustworthy — because amount of info (detailed), effort and research involved, and supporting facts/logic.
- BUT some people prefer shorter amounts of information or visual because it’s easier to digest. So how do you balance detail with ease of acquisition?
- Is the best option to give people a choice of amount of information? For example, give them an overview and let them choose whether to seek out more in-depth info.
- Source is important. Some said their level of trust depends more on source than anything. Also within the top 5 reasons to distrust something, source and cited sources make up 3.
About preferred medium or amount of information
- Note: I may not have done this in the best way. If I had given examples that would have been much better. Some people seemed confused by the ambiguity; others said “it depends” (on interest, time, subject matter)
- Amounts of information preferred vary—no clear winner here.
- People without grad degrees: tie for top choice between printed documents vs. websites (when learning about a new subject). Why print? Because it’s trustworthy, they like the physical aspect, and they can “refer back to”
- Why would they feel they can’t refer back to websites?
- People with grad degrees: Strongly prefer websites when learning new info. Big reason is so they can follow-up with links; also, it’s convenient and easy.
- Some people (both with and without grad degrees) prefer video (usually because they say they are a “visual learner”). Some because it’s “multisensory,” some because it’s more “engaging”.