Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Pyschology (Social Psychology)

First Advisor

Kevin L. Blankenship


Misinformation, or false content presented as true on social media and other internet platforms, has spread rapidly over the last several years and reaching a level of penetration where it has arguably influenced national and international political actions. This dissertation explored known influences of misinformation effects such as source monitoring errors and dual process theories of persuasion. It conducted two studies to further our understanding of the influence of misinformation on individuals' attitudes and beliefs through examining the role of source effects in narrative-form fake news. Study 1 examined the relative influence of author information and character (central figure) information on source credibility perceptions and subsequent persuasion, and found news stories with high-credibility authors and high-credibility characters create greater trust in a news story among readers. It also found evidence that participants' perceptions of the author are highly correlated with their perceptions of the protagonist. Study 2 presented two different types of source credibility cues in order to examine the potential moderating influence of ego involvement. This study found that participants did not differ in their trust of news stories across conditions of protagonist credibility, but that they did experience greater trust in the news story that had high ego involvement or high protagonist similarity. It also found that participants' narrative transportation and perceptions of the protagonist predicted their trust in the news stories. Together, these studies suggest that perceiving the central figure of a news story as trustworthy or similar to oneself is an important predictor of trust in the news story.


Copyright Owner

Kelly Ann Kane



File Format


File Size

163 pages