Everyday Dynamics of Media Skepticism and Credibility

An Ambulatory Assessment Study
  • Lukas OttoEmail author
  • Fabian Thomas
  • Michaela Maier


Within this chapter we attempt to clarify (1) whether media skepticism and information credibility are rather stable or transient variables and (2) the causal relationship between generalized attitudes towards the media (media skepticism) and more specific evaluations of news items (credibility). We conducted an ambulatory assessment study to measure everyday media consumption and investigate short-term dynamics as well as the relationship between credibility and media skepticism. Results indicate that information credibility is a rather transient variable, depending on the situation, while media skepticism is more stable across different measurement occasions. Moreover, our findings show that credibility judgments are generalized to attitudes towards the media as a whole and, vice versa, media skepticism determines specific trust judgments in a mutual relationship.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ariely, G. (2015). Trusting the Press and Political Trust: A Conditional Relationship. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 1–17.
  2. Austin, E. W., & Pinkleton, B. E. (1999). The Relation Between Media Content Evaluations and Political Disaffection. Mass Communication and Society, 2(3–4), 105–122.
  3. Bühner, M. (2011). Einführung in die Test-und Fragebogenkonstruktion. München: Pearson Deutschland GmbH.Google Scholar
  4. Cappella, J. N., & Jamieson, K. H. (1997). Spiral of cynicism: The press and the public good. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Chaiken, S. (1980). Heuristic Versus Systematic Information Processing and the Use of Source Versus Message Cues in Persuasion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39(5), 752–766.
  6. Cozzens, M. D., & Contractor, N. S. (1987). The Effect of Conflicting Information on Media Skepticism.pdf. Communication Research, 14(4), 437–451.Google Scholar
  7. Daniller, A., Allen, D., Tallevi, A., & Mutz, D. C. (2017). Measuring Trust in the Press in a Changing Media Environment. Communication Methods and Measures, 11(1), 76–85.
  8. Eid, M., & Langeheine, R. (1999). The measurement of consistency and occasion specificity with latent class models: A new model and its application to the measurement of affect. Psychological Methods, 4(1), 100–116.
  9. Eid, M., Schneider, C., & Schwenkmezger, P. (1999). Do you feel better or worse? The validity of perceived deviations of mood states from mood traits. European Journal of Personality, 13(4), 283–306.Google Scholar
  10. Fenno, R. F. J. (1975). If as Ralph Nader Says, Congress is ‘The Broken Branch’, How Come We Love Our Congressmen So Much? Paper presented at the Congress in change: Evolution and reform.Google Scholar
  11. Flanagin, A. J., & Metzger, M. J. (2011). From Encyclopædia Britannica To Wikipedia. Information, Communication & Society, 14(3), 355–374.
  12. Hayes, A. F. (2009). Beyond Baron and Kenny: Statistical Mediation Analysis in the New Millennium. Communication Monographs, 76(4), 408–420.
  13. Hayes, A. F. (2012). PROCESS: A versatile computational tool for observed variable mediation, moderation, and conditional process modeling. White Paper, 1–39. doi:978–1- 60918–230-4Google Scholar
  14. Hu, L.-t., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6(1), 1–55.Google Scholar
  15. Hutchens, M., Hmielowski, J., Pinkleton, B. E., & Beam, M. A. (2016). A Spiral of Skepticism? The Relationship Between Citizens’ Involvement With Campaign Information to Their Skepticism and Political Knowledge. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly.
  16. Iyengar, S. (1990). The accessability bias in politics: Televsion news and public opinion. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 2(1), 1–15.
  17. Kelava, A., & Schermelleh-Engel, K. (2007). Latent-State-Trait-Theorie (LST-Theorie). In H. Moosbrugger & A. Kelava (Eds.), Testtheorie und Fragebogenkonstruktion (pp. 344–360). Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  18. Kohring, M. (2004). Vertrauen in Journalismus: Theorie und Empirie. Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft.Google Scholar
  19. Kohring, M., & Matthes, J. (2007). Trust in News Media: Development and Validation of a Multidimensional Scale. Communication Research, 34(2), 231–252.
  20. Kruikemeier, S., & Shehata, A. (2017). News Media Use and Political Engagement Among Adolescents: An Analysis of Virtuous Circles Using Panel Data. Political Communication, 34(2), 221–242.
  21. Ladd, J. M. (2011). Why Americans hate the media and how it matters. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Lang, A. (2000). The Limited Capacity Model of Mediated Message Processing. Journal of Communication, 46–70.
  23. Li, R., & Suh, A. (2015). Factors Influencing Information credibility on Social Media Platforms: Evidence from Facebook Pages. Procedia Computer Science, 72, 314–328.
  24. Lucassen, T., & Schraagen, J. M. (2011). Factual Accuracy and Trust in Information: The Role of Expertise. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(7), 1232–1242.
  25. Lucassen, T., & Schraagen, J. M. (2012). Propensity to trust and the influence of source and medium cues in credibility evaluation. Journal of Information Science, 38(6), 566–577.
  26. Matthes, J., & Kohring, M. (2003). Operationalisierung von Vertrauen in Journalismus. Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, 51(1), 5–22.Google Scholar
  27. Metzger, M. J., & Flanagin, A. J. (2013). Credibility and trust of information in online environments: The use of cognitive heuristics. Journal of Pragmatics, 59, 210–220.
  28. Metzger, M. J., Flanagin, A. J., & Medders, R. B. (2010). Social and Heuristic Approaches to Credibility Evaluation Online. Journal of Communication, 60, 413–439.
  29. Mishler, W., & Rose, R. (2001). What Are The Origins of Political Trust? Testing Institutional and Cultural Theories in Post- Communist Societies. Comparative Political Studies, 34(1), 30–62.Google Scholar
  30. Moeller, J., & de Vreese, C. (2015). Spiral of Political Learning: The Reciprocal Relationship of News Media Use and Political Knowledge Among Adolescents. Communication Research.
  31. Otto, L., & Bacherle, P. (2011). Politisches Interesse Kurzskala (PIKS): Entwicklung und Validierung. Politische Psychologie, 1(1), 19–35.Google Scholar
  32. Otto, L., Maier, M., & Thomas, F. (2017). Short-term reinforcing spirals: An ambulatory assessment study of emotions and political news attention. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association (ICA), San Diego, CA, USA.Google Scholar
  33. Otto, L. & Maier, M. (2016). Mediated and moderated effects of personalized political communication on political trust. Communications – the European Journal of Communication Research, 41 (1), 21–45,
  34. Schemer, C. (2012). Reinforcing spirals of negative affects and selective attention to advertising in a political campaign. Communication Research, 39, 413–434.
  35. Schneider, F. M., Otto, L., Alings, D., & Schmitt, M. (2014). Measuring Traits and States in Public Opinion Research: A Latent State–Trait Analysis of Political Efficacy. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 26(2), 202–223.
  36. Schneider, F. M., Otto, L., & Bartsch, A. (2017). Das ist doch kein Zustand! Zur Messung von States und Traits in der Kommunikationswissenschaft. M&K Medien & Kommunikationswissenschaft, 65(1), 83–100.
  37. Slater, M. D. (2007). Reinforcing Spirals: The Mutual Influence of Media Selectivity and Media Effects and Their Impact on Individual Behavior and Social Identity. Communication Theory, 17(3), 281–303.
  38. Slater, M. D. (2015). Reinforcing Spirals Model: Conceptualizing the Relationship Between Media Content Exposure and the Development and Maintenance of Attitudes. Media Psychology, 18(3), 370–395.
  39. Slater, M. D., & Hayes, A. F. (2010). The Influence of Youth Music Television Viewership on Changes in Cigarette Use and Association with Smoking Peers: A Social Identity, Reinforcing Spirals Perspective. Communication Research, 37(6), 751–773.
  40. Sønderskov, K. M., & Dinesen, P. T. (2016). Trusting the State, Trusting Each Other? The Effect of Institutional Trust on Social Trust. Political Behavior, 38(1), 179–202.
  41. Steyer, R., Mayer, A., Geiser, C., & Cole, D. A. (2015). A Theory of States and Traits – Revised. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 11(1), 71–98.
  42. Steyer, R., & Schmitt, M. (1990). Latent state-trait models in attitude research. Quality and Quantity, 24(4), 427–445.Google Scholar
  43. Steyer, R., Schmitt, M., & Eid, M. (1999). Latent state–trait theory and research in personality and individual differences. European Journal of Personality, 13(5), 389–408.Google Scholar
  44. Sundar, S. S. (2008). The MAIN Model: A Heuristic Approach to Understanding Technology Effects on Credibility. In M. J. Metzger & A. J. Flanagin (Eds.), The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning (pp. 73– 100). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  45. Sundar, S. S., Knobloch-Westerwick, S., & Hastall, M. R. (2007). News Cues: Information Scent and Cognitive Heuristics, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 58(3), 366–378.
  46. Tsfati, Y. (2003). Media Scepticism and climate of opinion perception. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 15(1), 65–82.Google Scholar
  47. Tsfati, Y. (2007). Hostile Media Perceptions, Presumed Media Influence, and Minority Alienation: The Case of Arabs in Israel. Journal of Communication, 57(4), 632–651.
  48. Tsfati, Y. (2010). Online News Exposure and Trust in the Mainstream Media: Exploring Possible Associations. American Behavioral Scientist, 54(1), 22–42.
  49. Tsfati, Y., & Ariely, G. (2014). Individual and Contextual Correlates of Trust in Media Across 44 Countries. Communication Research, 41(6), 760–782.
  50. Tsfati, Y., & Cappella, J. N. (2003). Do People Watch what they Do Not Trust?: Exploring the Association between News Media Skepticism and Exposure. Communication Research, 30(5), 504–529.
  51. Tsfati, Y., & Cappella, J. N. (2005). Why Do People Watch News They Do Not Trust? The Need for Cognition as a Moderator in the Association Between News Media Skepticism and Exposure. Media Psychology, 7(3), 251–271.
  52. Tsfati, Y., & Cohen, J. (2005). The Influence of Presumed Media Influence on Democratic Legitimacy. Communication Research, 32(6), 794–821.
  53. Tsfati, Y., & Peri, Y. (2006). Mainstream Media Skepticism and Exposure to Sectorial and Extranational News Media: The Case of Israel. Mass Communication and Society, 9(2), 165–187.
  54. Uslaner, E. M. (2002). The moral foundations of trust: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Uslaner, E. M. (2008a). Trust as a moral value. In D. Castilioge, J. W. Van Deth, & G. Wolleb (Eds.), The handbook of social capital (pp. 101–121). New York: Oxford Universty Press.Google Scholar
  56. Uslaner, E. M. (2008b). Where You Stand Depends Upon Where Your Grandparents Sat: The Inheritability of Generalized Trust. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72(4), 725–740.
  57. Williams, A. E. (2012). Trust or Bust?: Questioning the Relationship Between Media Trust and News Attention. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56(1), 116–131.Google Scholar
  58. Wise, D., & McLaughlin, B. (2016). In Media We Distrust: The Interplay of Message, Context, and Media Trust on Campaign Message Effects. Electronic News, 10(2), 105–120.

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Communication Psychology and Media EducationUniversity of Koblenz-LandauLandauGermany

Personalised recommendations