This study introduces a new model of credibility for websites: graphical interfaces, functioning as bi-directional channels of communication that enable both users and computers to communicate. In the proposed model, website credibility is based on (i) Context of fruition: situational factors and internal characteristics of users, measured by level of involvement (Zaichkowsky, 1994); (ii) Stimuli: inputs that attract the attention of users as interpreted through their memory schemata. These enable users to generate prototypes – representative models of a particular membership category – and examples – imitative models of a membership category; and (iii) Mental schemata: unconscious cognitive representations, based on knowledge structures. These enable one to differentiate between users who are experts – individuals who possess these schemata – and those who are novices – individuals who do not (Guido, 2001). Results obtained from two experimental studies showed that credibility should not be considered an objective characteristic ascribed to its source, but a subjective one, deriving from users’ cognitive and motivational processes.
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