Is That Source Credible? A Model of Source Credibility in Politics
Ozer, Adam L.
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Using low information rationality, citizens can address their own lack of political knowledge by turning to elite experts with more detailed policy knowledge to help interpret and economize information. However, citizens must navigate a political media environment that is oversaturated with unqualified sources and competing heuristic cues. This has led some scholars to question whether individuals are willing or able to utilize low-information rationality effectively. Much prior work focuses on partisan motivated reasoning, asserting that the influence of partisanship overwhelms that of other relevant informational cues. This is refuted by a relatively smaller subset of works, finding that the influence of partisanship is often diminished by contextual cues. I address this debate with two experimental designs that place source cues in a competing context by simultaneously manipulating expertise-related source credibility cues and partisan cues. Findings suggest that the influence of partisan cues does not overwhelm competing source credibility cues. Instead, individuals do take source expertise and credibility into account, even when confronted with competing partisan source cues.