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For Wikipedia credibility, see Wikipedia:Credibility.
For the concept in monetary policy, see Monetary policy credibility.

Credibility comprises the objective and subjective components of the believability of a source or message.

Credibility has two key components: trustworthiness and expertise, which both have objective and subjective components. Trustworthiness is based more on subjective factors, but can include objective measurements such as established reliability. Expertise can be similarly subjectively perceived, but also includes relatively objective characteristics of the source or message (e.g., credentials, certification or information quality).[1] Secondary components of credibility include source dynamism (charisma) and physical attractiveness.

Credibility online has become an important topic since the mid-1990s. This is because the web has increasingly become an information resource. The Credibility and Digital Media Project @ UCSB[2] highlights recent and ongoing work in this area, including recent consideration of digital media, youth, and credibility. In addition, the Persuasive Technology Lab[3] at Stanford University has studied web credibility and proposed the principal components of online credibility and a general theory called Prominence-Interpretation Theory.[4]

Journalistic credibility[edit]

According to the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility.[5]

Scientific credibility[edit]

Scientific credibility has been defined as the extent to which science in general is recognized as a source of reliable information about the world.[6] The term has also been applied more narrowly, as an assessment of the credibility of the work of an individual scientist or a field of research. Here, the phrase refers to how closely the work in question adheres to scientific principles, such as the scientific method.[7] The method most commonly used to assess the quality of science is peer review and then publication as part of the scientific literature.[8] Other approaches include the collaborative assessment of a topic by a group of experts, this process can produce reviews such as those published by the Cochrane Collaboration,[9] or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.[10]

The general public can give a great deal of weight to perceptions of scientific authority in their decisions on controversial issues that involve scientific research, such as biotechnology.[11] However, both the credibility and authority of science is questioned by groups with non-mainstream views, such as some advocates of alternative medicine,[12] or those who dispute the scientific consensus on a topic, such as denialists of AIDS[13][14] and of evolution[citation needed].

Street credibility[edit]

Street credibility or street cred is the degree to which someone's word can be believed by the person on the street.[15]

Two-phase model of credibility[edit]

Jürgen Habermas in his theory of communicative action developed four validity claims (truth, sincerity, appropriateness and understandability) leading to credibility. In a study[16] researchers empirically validated the claims and derived a two-phase model of (reporting-) credibility, where first of all understandability needs to be reached. Only then the three other validity claims make a difference and may lead to credibility in the Habermasian sense.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Flanagin and Metzger (2008), Digital media and youth: Unparalleled opportunity and unprecedented responsibility. In M. Metzger, & A. Flanagin (Editors), Digital media, youth, and credibility (pp. 5–28). Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ (see Preamble)
  6. ^ Bocking, Stephen (2004). Nature's experts: science, politics, and the environment. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. p. 164. ISBN 0-8135-3398-8. 
  7. ^ Alkin, Marvin C. (2004). Evaluation roots: tracing theorists' views and influences. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage. p. 134. ISBN 0-7619-2894-4. 
  8. ^ Bocking, Stephen (2004). Nature's experts: science, politics, and the environment. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. p. 165. ISBN 0-8135-3398-8. 
  9. ^ What is a Cochrane review The Cochrane Collaboration, Accessed 5 January 2009
  10. ^ Agrawala, S. (1998). "Structural and Process History of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change" (PDF). Climatic Change. 39 (4): 621–642. doi:10.1023/A:1005312331477. 
  11. ^ Brossard, Dominique; Nisbet, Matthew C. (2007). "Deference to Scientific Authority Among a Low Information Public: Understanding U.S. Opinion on Agricultural Biotechnology". International Journal of Public Opinion Research. 19 (1): 24. doi:10.1093/ijpor/edl003. Lay summary. 
  12. ^ O'callaghan, F.V.; Jordan, N. (2003). "Postmodern values, attitudes and the use of complementary medicine". Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 11 (1): 28–32. doi:10.1016/S0965-2299(02)00109-7. PMID 12667972. [dead link]
  13. ^ Smith TC, Novella SP (August 2007). "HIV denial in the Internet era". PLoS Med. 4 (8): e256. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040256. PMC 1949841Freely accessible. PMID 17713982. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. 
  14. ^ Epstein, Steven (1996). Impure science: AIDS, activism, and the politics of knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21445-5. 
  15. ^ "Definition of cred". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  16. ^ Lock, Irina; Seele, Peter (2016): The credibility of CSR reports in Europe. Evidence from a quantitative content analysis in 11 countries. Journal of Cleaner Production. 122. 186-200. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.02.060

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