Website Credibility Assessment: An Empirical - Investigation of Prominence-interpretation Theory

Joey F. George, Iowa State University
Akmal Mirsadikov, Iowa State University
Brian E. Mennecke, Iowa State University

This article is published as George, J. F., Mirsadikov, A., & Mennecke, B. E. (2016). Website Credibility Assessment: An Empirical - Investigation of Prominence-interpretation Theory. AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, 8(2); 40-57. Posted with permission.


While a variety of research studies have examined factors that influence individuals’ attitudes toward and use of websites, an important yet understudied stream looks at the role of website credibility. We examine website credibility through the lens of prominence-interpretation theory. Fogg (2003) developed this theory to help explain the relationships between what users observe about a website, how they interpret it, and how observation and interpretation together determine website credibility. In this paper, we look specifically at the relationship between prominence and interpretation and how these variables interact to influence attitudes about website credibility. We examined this relationship using a controlled laboratory experiment in which we exposed subjects to a website and asked them what they saw and how they interpreted what they saw. We analyzed these data using discriminant analysis and show that the interaction between prominence and interpretation accurately predicts attitudes about credibility, which offers strong support for prominence-interpretation theory. We discuss these findings and their implications for theory and practice.