Age differences in credibility judgments of online health information

Q. Vera Liao, Wai Tat Fu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Older adults are a notable group among the exponentially growing population of online health information consumers. In order to better support older adults' health-related information seeking on the Internet, it is important to understand how they judge the credibility of such information when compared to younger users. We conducted two laboratory studies to explore how the credibility cues in message contents, website features, and user-generated comments differentially impact younger (19 to 26 years of age) and older adults' (58 to 80 years of age) credibility judgments. Results from the first experiment showed that older adults were less sensitive to the credibility cues in message contents and those in website features than younger adults. Verbal protocol analysis revealed that these differences could be caused by the higher tendency of older adults to passively accept web information, and their lack of deliberation on its quality and attention towards contextual web features (e.g., design look, source identity). In the second experiment, we studied how credibility cues from user reviews might differentially impact older and younger adults' credibility judgments of online health information. Results showed that consistent credibility cues in user reviews and message contents could facilitate older adults' credibility judgments. When the two were inconsistent, older adults, as compared to younger ones, were less swayed by highly appraising user reviews given to low credibility information. These results provided important implications for designing health information technologies that better fit the older population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Aging
  • H.1.2 [information systems]: human factors
  • Health website
  • User review
  • Web credibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human-Computer Interaction


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