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The bi-directional relationship between source characteristics and message content

The bi-directional relationship between source characteristics and message content

Collins, Peter J. ORCID: 0000-0003-4831-2524, Hahn, Ulrike, von Gerber, Ylva and Olsson, Erik J. (2018) The bi-directional relationship between source characteristics and message content. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:18. ISSN 1664-1078 (Online) (doi:

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Much of what we believe we know, we know through the testimony of others (Coady, 1992). While there has been long-standing evidence that people are sensitive to the characteristics of the sources of testimony, for example in the context of persuasion, researchers have only recently begun to explore the wider implications of source reliability considerations for the nature of our beliefs. Likewise, much remains to be established concerning what factors influence source reliability. In this paper, we examine, both theoretically and empirically, the implications of using message content as a cue to source reliability. We present a set of experiments examining the relationship between source information and message content in people’s responses to simple communications. The results show that people spontaneously revise their beliefs in the reliability of the source on the basis of the expectedness of a source’s claim and, conversely, adjust message impact by perceived reliability; hence source reliability and message content have a bi-directional relationship. The implications are discussed for a variety of psychological, philosophical and political issues such as belief polarization and dual-route models of persuasion.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 Collins, Hahn, von Gerber and Olsson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Uncontrolled Keywords: evidence, argument, source reliability, epistemology, Bayesian models
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2020 11:32

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