The Bi-directional Relationship Between Source Characteristics and Message Content

Abstract

Much of what we believe to know, we know through the testimony of others (Coady, 1994). Whether the resultant beliefs constitute knowledge or erroneous beliefs consequently rests directly on the reliability of our sources. While there has been long-standing evidence that people are sensitive to source characteristics, for example in the context of persuasion, exploration of the wider implications of source reliability considerations for the nature of our beliefs has begun only fairly recently. Likewise, much remains to be established concerning what factors influence source reliability. In this paper, we examine, both theoretically and empirically, the implications of using message content as a cue to source reliability.


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