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Evaluating Scientists as Sources of Science Information: Evidence From Eye Movements


Journal of Communication

Published online on


In the new information environment, individuals can be exposed to different scientists who disseminate information on scientific topics which may or may not be in the scientist's area of expertise. The current study investigates people's ability to evaluate finer, but critical, distinctions in expertise. We use eye movements and self‐report measures to determine the extent to which individuals retrieve, from their memories, professional facts about scientists that signal their area of expertise. Our results suggest that individuals can discern expert from nonexpert scientist sources but self‐report measures may not accurately reflect this phenomenon, thus highlighting the value of a converging methods approach. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.