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Title: Bandwagon of suspicion : Investigating credibility perceptions toward relayed information on WhatsApp
Authors: Hamka Afiq Mohamed
Tan, Joanne
Lau, Zhi Xin
Lim, Jia Yao
Keywords: Social sciences::Communication
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Project: CS/19/035
Abstract: This study conceptualizes the electronically-relayed-information cue (ERIC), which indicates if a piece of content has been passed on via electronic means, and if so, how many times. Situating ERICs as agency cues under the MAIN model, this study explores how the presence of “Forwarded” labels on WhatsApp affects perceptions of message credibility. It also considers if this effect depends on message congruence and users’ knowledge of the cues’ meaning. This study features a 3 (within-subjects: no ERIC vs. weak ERIC vs. strong ERIC) × 2 (between-subjects: congruent vs. incongruent) × 2 (between-subjects: informed vs. uninformed) experiment conducted on a Singapore sample (N = 266). The results show that messages with weak ERICs were perceived as less credible than messages without ERICs. A three-way interaction was observed where users who saw congruent messages, and were not informed about the meanings of ERICs, perceived messages with either ERIC as less credible than messages without ERICs. The results imply that in certain contexts, ERICs can induce suspicion toward the relayed content. This is consistent with WhatsApp’s rationale for introducing the “Forwarded” labels. This study contributes to a more holistic understanding of message effects that parses the element of relay in mediated communication.
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:WKWSCI Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI/CA)

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