On a heuristic point of view concerning social media news and secondary teachers

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


Certain cues used by a consumer of news can trigger heuristics that help determine whether information is credible (Metzger, 2007; Sundar, Knobloch?Westerwick, & Hastall, 2007). This study addresses which cues secondary teachers perceive as effective when assessing the credibility of news on social media. The purpose of this study is to determine how secondary teachers rate cues in order of importance when evaluating the credibility of news obtained in the context of social media. The participants in this study were secondary teachers in a northwest state who teach about online information credibility. A survey adapted from the Kids and Credibility Study (Flanagin, Metzger, & Hartsell, 2010) asked secondary teachers to rate the importance of 23 credibility cues or heuristics commonly found in social media news posts. A principal components analysis revealed three components that are a composite of heuristics reflected in the literature (Beavers et al., 2013). The resulting components were named Endorsement, Reputation & Confirmation, and Low Level Endorsement respectively. By using a sum scores comparison, the composites of heuristics were ordered by perceived level of credibility (DiStefano, Zhu, & Mindrila, 2009; Grace-Martin, 2016). Reputation & Confirmation rated highest on the scale as indicators of credibility, Endorsement ranked second, and Low Level Endorsement ranked last. The results of the study indicate that secondary teachers believe that the most effective heuristics while using low to medium cognitive effort for assessing news credibility are the reputation of the author of the information, along with confirming the information from another source to make a quality judgment on the factual nature of the source. Social endorsements (such as 'likes' and 'shares') on social media play an important role in determining credibility; however, secondary teachers indicate that they perceive Reputation and Consistency to be better at indicating credibility. This study illuminates the role heuristics play in credibility decisions when evaluating news found in a social media setting.




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