Student Research Projects

The Influence of Source Credibility and Contextual Support on the Interpretation of Misinformation

Student Courtney Jones ‘15 (Biology and Psychology)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology
Course Psychology 480: Original Research Project


Information in the media can be misleading, and it can be difficult to determine if sources are credible. The present study examines how contextual support and source credibility can affect how college students interpret media. A survey was conducted to test participants on their accuracy in answering true or false statements and determining the credibility of sources. It was found that participants scored poorly while assessing the accuracy of statements and that contextual support made it slightly easier for participants to sight accurate and inaccurate information. It was also found that participants based their judgment of source credibility on the accuracy of the statement cited to the source rather than the source itself. The implications of this research include further investigation of college students to determine the extent to which they should be educated on identifying misinformation and credible sources, as well as identifying ways to prevent the coding of misinformation.


Presented at the Virginia Psychological Association Conference in Virginia Beach, VA, April 2015.


Awarded the Frederick B. Rowe Award for the Best Undergraduate Paper at the Virginia Psychological Association Conference

Selected as top research project in the Division of the Social Sciences, 2014-15.