Does a Hyperlink Function as an Endorsement?
Websites often provide hyperlinks to other sites featuring related content. Does this imply an endorsement of the content presented on those linked sites? We answered this question with a 2 x 2 between-subjects factorial experiment in which we systematically varied source credibility (high vs. low) and source sequence (linking vs. linked). All study participants (N = 572) read a dubious story questioning the value of sunscreen, with a link at the bottom to a related story with the same claim. Results show that user perceptions of interest value (i.e., appeal) do transfer over from the linking site to the linked site. However, the source signal is quite salient when it comes to evaluations of newsworthiness and trustworthiness, with users taking note of the differences in credibility. Design implications of these findings for persuasive communications are discussed.
KeywordsHyperlink Link Source Endorsement Persuasion
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