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Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do

The Stanford Web Credibility Studies

Over the past four years, my Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab has conducted a number of research studies related to Web credibility, involving over 6,000 participants. After conducting a few smaller experiments and surveys, in the fall of 1999, 10 graduate students [13] and I launched a large-scale research project to investigate Web credibility. [14 ]

We were intrigued by the results of the 1999 study [15] and decided to take another snapshot in 2002, [16] to see how perceptions had changed in the intervening years. We plan to repeat the study every two or three years, to give us not only a snapshot of Web credibility at single points in time but a better understanding of how the Web and user perceptions of Web credibility are changing over time.

The 2002 study was nearly identical in content and methodology. However, because the Web is a dynamic medium, some changes were necessary for the newer study. While trying to keep changes to a minimum, we discarded a few questions that seemed outdated, reworded a few questions, and added some questions to probe new issues in the shifting landscape of Web use and technology. In 1999we asked people about their credibility perceptions of 51 items; in 2002 we asked about 55 items.

Developing the questions for each survey was a rather involved and careful process. In 1999, after the graduate students and I reviewed the few existing pieces of literature on Web credibility...

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