People with positive Wikipedia attitude better at assessing credibility

Oct 09, 2012

Research conducted by the University of Twente's CTIT research institute shows that people who are negative about Wikipedia are poor at assessing the credibility of articles included in this resource. "They consider all information in this resource to be equally unreliable, meaning they end up missing out on valuable information," says UT researcher Teun Lucassen. People who have a fundamentally positive attitude toward Wikipedia are better able to assess the credibility of specific Wikipedia articles. The results of this study were published in the Journal of Information Science.

As the sea of digital information continues to swell, it is becoming increasingly vital to properly assess whether certain information is reliable or not. is an example of a widely used source of freely available . However, because everybody can add or edit entries in this , some of the articles contain inaccuracies or falsehoods. Users must therefore decide for themselves whether the articles in question are reliable or not.

UT researcher Teun Lucassen is studying how people assess the credibility of online information. He frequently focuses on Wikipedia. A new study conducted by him shows that people's trust in Wikipedia plays an important role in their ability to assess the credibility of individual Wikipedia articles. People who are less confident in the resource tend to ascribe a low level of credibility to the articles, regardless of their actual quality. People who do have confidence in Wikipedia are much better able to distinguish between credible and unreliable articles. Teun Lucassen: "You always need to approach these articles with a critical eye. Still, it's a shame that people with a toward Wikipedia simply discount it wholesale, even the worthwhile articles. Wikipedia can be a valuable source of information, but you should of course always be aware of how the articles come into being."

Research

The study was conducted among 152 subjects from around the world. The subjects were presented with articles of varying quality, then asked to assess the credibility of the articles. Standardized questionnaires were then used to determine the extent to which the respondents generally tend to trust information, and the extent to which they trust information gleaned from the internet, in particular from Wikipedia. The study was conducted by Teun Lucassen and Jan Maarten Schraagen of the Department of Cognitive Psychology and Ergonomics at the CTIT research institute of the University of Twente.

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User comments : 3

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Claudius
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 09, 2012
I have found that on non-controversial subjects, Wikipedia can mostly be relied on. It is controversial areas that the articles become colored. It is useful in such cases to look at the discussion page to see what is being said about the article. There was a news article recently about a special interest group that lurks on certain articles to make sure only their point of view is expressed, or to suppress differing points of view. This is more common that most people realize.
theskepticalpsychic
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 09, 2012
My question: I wonder how much this study cost. It seems intuitively obvious that people who have a negative view of Wikipedia would assume all its articles are unreliable.
Sinister1811
1 / 5 (5) Oct 10, 2012
I don't get why people complain about the accuracy of Wikipedia. I mean, it's free access to information. And, the majority of the time, it's pretty reliable as well. I've used it a lot as a reference, and I only remember ever coming across one or two pages that were obviously edited (and you can usually tell). Usually, poor grammar and spelling errors should come up as red flags. Wikipedia usually logs the page edits, and if they don't like the way, in which, it has been edited, they'll reformat it back to its original state.

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