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Searching online for information about vaccination: Assessing the influence of user-specific cognitive factors using eye-tracking


Kessler, Sabrina Heike; Zillich, Arne Freya (2019). Searching online for information about vaccination: Assessing the influence of user-specific cognitive factors using eye-tracking. Health Communication, 34(10):1150-1158.

Abstract

In Germany, the Internet is gaining increasing importance for laypeople as a source of health information, including information about vaccination. While previous research has focused on the characteristics of online information about vaccination, this study investigated the influence of relevant user-specific cognitive factors on users’ search behavior for online information about vaccination. Additionally, it examined how searching online for information about vaccination influences users’ attitudes toward vaccination. We conducted an experimental study with 56 undergraduate students from a German university that consisted of a survey and eye-tracking while browsing the Internet, followed by a content analysis of the eye-tracking data. The results show that the users exposed themselves to balanced and diverse online information about vaccination. However, none of the examined cognitive factors (attitude toward vaccination, attitude salience, prior knowledge about vaccination, need for cognition, and cognitive involvement) influenced the amount of time users spent searching the Internet for information about vaccination. Our study was not able to document any effects of attitude-consistent selective exposure to online information about vaccination. In addition, we found no effect on attitude change after having searched the Internet for vaccine-related information. Thus, users’ search behavior regarding vaccination seems to be relatively stable.

Abstract

In Germany, the Internet is gaining increasing importance for laypeople as a source of health information, including information about vaccination. While previous research has focused on the characteristics of online information about vaccination, this study investigated the influence of relevant user-specific cognitive factors on users’ search behavior for online information about vaccination. Additionally, it examined how searching online for information about vaccination influences users’ attitudes toward vaccination. We conducted an experimental study with 56 undergraduate students from a German university that consisted of a survey and eye-tracking while browsing the Internet, followed by a content analysis of the eye-tracking data. The results show that the users exposed themselves to balanced and diverse online information about vaccination. However, none of the examined cognitive factors (attitude toward vaccination, attitude salience, prior knowledge about vaccination, need for cognition, and cognitive involvement) influenced the amount of time users spent searching the Internet for information about vaccination. Our study was not able to document any effects of attitude-consistent selective exposure to online information about vaccination. In addition, we found no effect on attitude change after having searched the Internet for vaccine-related information. Thus, users’ search behavior regarding vaccination seems to be relatively stable.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Language:English
Date:24 August 2019
Deposited On:06 Dec 2018 14:33
Last Modified:17 Sep 2019 19:46
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1041-0236
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/10410236.2018.1465793

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