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Citizens' Perceptions of Online Political Information Credibility and Impact on Attitude toward the Candidate and Intent...

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0042969/00001

Material Information

Title: Citizens' Perceptions of Online Political Information Credibility and Impact on Attitude toward the Candidate and Intentions for Political Participation An Examination of Involvement and Interactive Features
Physical Description: 1 online resource (89 p.)
Language: english
Creator: LIU,HSIAO-YING
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: ATTITUDE -- CREDIBILITY -- PARTICIPATION -- POLITICAL
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Due to Americans' increasing use of the Internet for political information, websites have become increasingly important to the production and consumption of campaign information (Xenos and Moy, 2007). Studies have shown that online political communication encourages greater political participation (Xenos and Moy, 2007; Tolbert and McNeal, 2003), and Pew (2008) found that most young Americans use the Internet to access information for campaigns or elections. Understanding how citizens assess the credibility of information is important from both the conceptual and the practical standpoints. The main objective of this research is to determine whether online political information can affect people's perceptions of the credibility of candidates, their attitudes toward them, and their intention to participate politically. We still know very little about how online interactivity influences perceptions of political information's credibility, although Metzger et al. (2003) indicated that the information source may impact readers' perception of credibility. The present research combines the concepts of source credibility, involvement, and interactivity in pursuit of its objective and tests whether the level of the site's involvement with the issue affects perceived source credibility and political participation. A 2 (high vs. low Facebook site interactivity) X 2 (high involvement vs. low involvement) factorial experimental design is employed using 164 university students as the sample. The results indicate that both involvement and interactivity affect perceived information credibility. Political information from a group with a low level of involvement was deemed more credible than that from a highly involved group, and political information provided from a highly interactive Facebook site was deemed more credible than that from a Facebook site with low interactivity. Both involvement and interactivity affect citizens' attitudes toward the candidate and their intentions to participate politically. Interactivity has more influence on citizens' attitudes toward the candidate and intentions to participate politically than the information provider's level of involvement does. Increased interactivity could lead to more positive evaluations of the candidate, thereby enhancing intentions to participate politically. In addition, the more interactive features, such as navigation menus and feedback functions, there were, the more positive participants' attitudes toward the candidate were and the greater their intentions were to participate politically.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by HSIAO-YING LIU.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Kiousis, Spiro K.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0042969:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0042969/00001

Material Information

Title: Citizens' Perceptions of Online Political Information Credibility and Impact on Attitude toward the Candidate and Intentions for Political Participation An Examination of Involvement and Interactive Features
Physical Description: 1 online resource (89 p.)
Language: english
Creator: LIU,HSIAO-YING
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: ATTITUDE -- CREDIBILITY -- PARTICIPATION -- POLITICAL
Journalism and Communications -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Mass Communication thesis, M.A.M.C.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: Due to Americans' increasing use of the Internet for political information, websites have become increasingly important to the production and consumption of campaign information (Xenos and Moy, 2007). Studies have shown that online political communication encourages greater political participation (Xenos and Moy, 2007; Tolbert and McNeal, 2003), and Pew (2008) found that most young Americans use the Internet to access information for campaigns or elections. Understanding how citizens assess the credibility of information is important from both the conceptual and the practical standpoints. The main objective of this research is to determine whether online political information can affect people's perceptions of the credibility of candidates, their attitudes toward them, and their intention to participate politically. We still know very little about how online interactivity influences perceptions of political information's credibility, although Metzger et al. (2003) indicated that the information source may impact readers' perception of credibility. The present research combines the concepts of source credibility, involvement, and interactivity in pursuit of its objective and tests whether the level of the site's involvement with the issue affects perceived source credibility and political participation. A 2 (high vs. low Facebook site interactivity) X 2 (high involvement vs. low involvement) factorial experimental design is employed using 164 university students as the sample. The results indicate that both involvement and interactivity affect perceived information credibility. Political information from a group with a low level of involvement was deemed more credible than that from a highly involved group, and political information provided from a highly interactive Facebook site was deemed more credible than that from a Facebook site with low interactivity. Both involvement and interactivity affect citizens' attitudes toward the candidate and their intentions to participate politically. Interactivity has more influence on citizens' attitudes toward the candidate and intentions to participate politically than the information provider's level of involvement does. Increased interactivity could lead to more positive evaluations of the candidate, thereby enhancing intentions to participate politically. In addition, the more interactive features, such as navigation menus and feedback functions, there were, the more positive participants' attitudes toward the candidate were and the greater their intentions were to participate politically.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by HSIAO-YING LIU.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.M.C.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Kiousis, Spiro K.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0042969:00001


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1 IMPACT ON ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CANDIDATE AND INTENTIONS FOR POLITICAL PARTICIPATION: AN EXAMINATION OF INVOLVEMENT AND INTERACTIVE FEATURES By HSIAO YING LIU A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011

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2 2011 Hsiao Ying Liu

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3 To my family

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The completion of this study could not have been achieved without the help of many people. First and foremost, I would like to thank my chair, Dr. Spiro Kiousis Dr. Kiousis provided endless patience with my many questions and always gave m e professional and insightful suggestions for my study. H e always led me to have a higher vision and supported me to make the impossible to the possible. He is the professor I admired and respected most. Moreover, I would like to extend my gratitude to my attentive committee members, Dr. Mike Weigold and Dr. Belio A. Martinez. Dr. Weigold provided constructive guidance to conduct the experimental design Dr. Martinez inspired me with an excellent research idea and always gives me encouragement about myself. They offered me priceless suggestions, which greatly improved the quality of my thesis. In addition, they also helped me to distribute my questionnaires in their classes. Further, I would like to express my deepest thanks to my entire family for their en dless support and caring. I thank my dear parents for always giving me confidence to pursuit my dream and have encouraged me during bad times or good times. Without their support, none of this would hav e been possibl e. Special thanks go to David Painter, E ric Schumacher, Weiting Tao, and many sweet friends at UF. They inspired, encouraged an d comforted me during these stressful time s of writing the thesis I will never forget the warmhearted kindness that they have shown me. I also want to give thanks to my senior alumna, Dora Lee and Wen Hsin Cheng, for t he i r warm Most of all, I want to express my deepest gratitude to Ken Guan for his support to my personal life, his statistical expertise to my studies, and his sharing of frustration and happiness with me.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 TABLE OF CONTENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 5 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 7 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 12 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 15 Political Information and the Internet ................................ ................................ ..................... 15 The Internet and Public Relations ................................ ................................ ........................... 16 Social Media in Public Relations ................................ ................................ ............................ 18 Credibility ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 20 Source Credibility ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 21 Medium Credibility ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 23 The Internet and Website Credib ility ................................ ................................ .............. 25 Interactivity ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 27 Level of Involvement ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 29 Attitude towar ds the Candidate and Intention for Political Participation ............................... 32 Research Questions and Hypotheses ................................ ................................ ...................... 33 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 35 Stimuli ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 35 Pretest ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 37 Pretest Result ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 38 Main Study ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 39 Sample and Procedure ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 40 Independent Variables ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 41 Level of Involvement ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 41 Facebook Site Interactivity ................................ ................................ .............................. 41 Dependent Variables ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 42 Perceived Credibility ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 42 Attitude towards the Candidate and Intentions for Political Participation ...................... 42 4 RESULT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 47

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6 Analysis Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 47 Profile of Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 47 Manipulation Checks ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 48 Sample Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 49 Research Questions and Hypothesis Testing ................................ ................................ .......... 49 Effect of Involvement and Interactivity on Perceived Credibility ................................ .. 49 Effect of Involvement and Interactivity on Attitude towards the Candidate ................... 50 Effect of Involvement and Interactivity on Intentions for Political Participation ........... 51 Effect of Perceived Credibility on Attitude towards the C andidate and Intentions for Political Participation ................................ ................................ ............................. 52 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ .................... 58 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 58 Overview of Hypotheses and Research Questions ................................ ................................ 60 Conclusion and Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 63 Limitations and Future Research ................................ ................................ ............................ 66 APPENDIX A FACEBOOK SITE LAYOUT ................................ ................................ ................................ 70 B POLITICAL INFORMATION POST ON FACEBOOK SITE: ANDREW MILLER .......... 74 C INSTRUCTIONS TO SUBJECTS ................................ ................................ ......................... 77 D QUESTIONNAIRE FOR PRETEST ................................ ................................ ..................... 78 E QUESTIONN AIRE FOR EXPERIMENT GROUP ................................ .............................. 80 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 85 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 89

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7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Result of T test: perceived the level of interactivity. ................................ ......................... 44 3 2 Result of T test: perceived the level of inv olvement. ................................ ........................ 44 3 3 Conditions of the 2x2 experimental design. ................................ ................................ ...... 44 3 4 Reliability Checks. ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 44 3 5 Construct measurement summary. ................................ ................................ ..................... 45 4 1 Random assignment of participants in each condition. ................................ ..................... 54 4 2 Result of T test: perceived the level of involvement. ................................ ........................ 54 4 3 Result of t test: perceived the level of interactivity. ................................ .......................... 54 4 4 Valid samples in four conditions. ................................ ................................ ...................... 54 4 5 General usage of the Internet. ................................ ................................ ............................ 55 4 6 Perceived credibility by involvement. ................................ ................................ ............... 55 4 7 Perceived credibility by interactivity. ................................ ................................ ................ 55 4 8 Effects of i nvolvement & interactivity on information credibility. ................................ ... 55 4 9 Attitude towards the candidate by involvement. ................................ ................................ 56 4 10 Attitude towards the candidate by interactivity. ................................ ................................ 56 4 11 Effects of involvement & interactivity on attitude towards the candidate ........................ 56 4 12 Intentions for political participation by involvement. ................................ ........................ 56 4 13 Intentions for political participation by interactivity. ................................ ........................ 56 4 1 4 Effects of involvement & interactivity on intentions for pol itical participation ............... 56 4 15 Result of regression, dependent variable: attitude towards the candidate. ........................ 56 4 16 Result of regr ession, dependent variable: intentions for political participation. ............... 57 4 17 Result of regression, dependent variable: perceived credibility. ................................ ....... 57

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8 4 18 Result of regression, dependent variable: attitude towards the candidate. ........................ 57 4 19 Result of regression, dependent variable: intentions for political participation. ............... 57

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9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 Theoretical model of perceived credibility on the political Facebook page. ..................... 46 5 1 Modified theoretical model in the present study. ................................ ............................... 69 A 1 High interactive political Facebook site layout for highly involved group. ...................... 70 A 2 High interactive political Facebook site layout for lowly involved group. ....................... 71 A 3 Low interactive political Facebook site layout for highly involved group. ....................... 72 A 4 Low interactive political Facebook site layout for lowly involved group. ........................ 73

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10 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the Univers ity of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication PERCEPTIONS OF ONLINE POLITICAL INFORMATION CREDIBILITY AND IMPACT ON ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE CANDIDATE AND INTENTIONS FOR POLITICAL PARTICIPATION: AN EXAMINATION OF INVOLVEMENT AND INTERACTIVE FEATURES By Hsiao Ying Liu May 2011 Chair: Spiro Kiousis Major: Mass Communication Due to beco me increasingly important to the production and consumption of campaign information (Xenos and Moy, 2007). Studies have shown that online political communication encourages greater political participation (Xenos and Moy, 2007; Tolbert and McNeal, 2003), an d Pew (2008) found that most young Americans use the Internet to access information for campaigns or elections. Understanding how citizens assess the credibility of information is important from both the conceptual and the practical standpoints. The main o bjective of this research is to determine candidates, their attitudes toward them, and their intention to participate politically. We still know very little about ho credibility, although Metzger et al. (2003) indicated that the information source may impact c redibility, involvement, and interactivity in pursuit of its objective and tests whether the level of

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11 participation. A 2 (high vs. low Facebook site interactivity) X 2 (high involvement vs. low involvement) factorial experimental design is employed using 164 university students as the sample. The results indicate that both involvement and interactivity affect perceived information credibility. Political information fro m a group with a low level of involvement was deemed more credible than that from a highly involved group, and political information provided from a highly interactive Facebook site was deemed more credible than that from a Facebook site with low interacti and their intention s attitudes toward the candidate and intentions to participate politically than the information evaluations of the candidate, thereby enhancing intentions to participate politically. In addition, the more interactive features, such as navig ation menus and feedback functions, there were, the s w ere to participate politically.

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12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The purpose of this research is to determine how the interactivity of politics related Facebook sites and the level of the information credibility of online political information. Citizens are increasingly using the Internet to retrieve political informati has become more widely available, websites have become an important medium for political communication. Citizens can now choose whether to see presidential debates on CNN or YouTube (Newman, 2008 2009). brace and acceptance of political websites. Studies have examined the role of various elements in predicting perceptions of website According to Johnson a nd Kaye (1998), online sources oriented to political issues are considered credibility of online information, television, magazines, and newspapers and showed th at the information in newspapers is more credible than information found online, on television, and in magazines. (Sundar, Kalyanaraman & Brown, 2003). Other research also indicates that the higher level of interactivity of a political w ebsite contributes to the higher level of liking (Ahern & Stromer 1998, Stromer Galley (2000) distinguished between computer mediated human interaction and

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13 media interaction. In later work, Stromer Galley (2004) clarified this distinction by developing a as process, which entails a research focus on hu as 391). The present study investigates technological interaction. According to Stromer Galley (2000), media interaction can create a more effi cient online environment, which gives the user more control over the information received. Stromer ectively in politics, they must have information about the candidate However the question concerning whether increasing the interactivity of the website ensures an open conversation between the candidate and the user participation remains. Therefore, examining how interactive Web technologies influence perceptions of online political information credibility is the main subject of this research. Moreover, involvement has been identified as an important variable that af fects the involvement with the issue is also defined as an important element in the determination of source credibility (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). A ccording to Johnson and Scileppi (1969) and Rhine and Severance (1970), experts have indicated that a highly credible purpose of this study is to determine whethe r the interactive and involvement features of a political Facebook site affect how people process and evaluate political information on that and intention to participate politically.

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14 As far back as Best and Krueger (2005), the Internet had become a primary source for political participation in the United States. Many scholars have investigated the relationship between the Internet and political participation although some studies have shown that using the Internet has positive effects on civic engagement (Jennings & Zeitner, 2003; Tolbert & McNeal, 2003), while others have found using the Internet has limited effect on political efficacy or political partici pation (Hardy & Scheufele, 2005; Norris, 1999; Scheufele & Nisbet, 2002). The present research explores how political information online relates to political attitudes and the intention to participate politically.

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15 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Political In formation and the Internet According to the Pew Internet & American Life Report (2009), the audience for online political news has grown dramatically over the past two presidential election cycles, and the Internet has enhanced civic participation in polit ical issues (Xenos & Moy, 2007). The Internet has the advantage of disseminating accessible political information more easily than other media and helps citizens toward greater levels of political participation (Dutton 1999; Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Kavanaugh & Patterson, 2001; Norris, 2000; Putnam, 2000; Verba et al., 1995). For example, e event. More recently, Drew and Weaver (2006) indicated that being exposed to and payin g attention to online political information is positively associated with campaign knowledge, interest, and political participation among users. There is a positive relationship between political information and political participation (Jackman, 2003). Yan (2006) suggested that people who use the Internet for political information can use the Internet to send e mails with political content and try to influen ce government decisions by posting comments on websites (Anduiza, Cantijoch, & Gallego, 2009). Some authors have also argued that the Internet contributes to a more participative society (Negroponte, 1996). For instance, advertising a campaign on the Inter net and producing interactive materials, such as videos or banners, can help viewers acquire political messages; this is a way to encourage political participation simply and efficiently (Anduiza, Cantijoch, & Gallego, 2009). Instead of reading political information on websites in a passive way, citizens can now communicate their experiences actively. For instance, an increasing number of politicians are

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16 turning to Web based campaigning. This new medium offers new possibilities for candidates because it al lows them to reach out to their constituents more directly than is possible with television (Corrado & Firestone, 1996), thereby enhancing public participation in the political process (Sundar, Hesser, Kalyanaraman, & Brown, 2003). The Internet is an ideal medium for such purposes, and the incorporation of Web based technologies into political communication strategies is making political promotions more effective. The Internet and Public Relations rnet was carried out by Johnson (1997), who explored how this new communication technology influenced the role of a public relations practitioner and concluded that two way symmetrical communication could be improved by using it. Wright (1998, 2001) also s tated that the Internet held a great deal of potential for facilitating the development of relationships between organizations and the public; in fact, thousands of organizations and companies use their websites as their key channel of communication (e.g., Jo & Kim, 2003; Wright, 1998; Springston, 2001). Kiousis and Dimitrova's (2006) findings were one of a wealth of studies concluding the Internet to be an influential medium in public relations. The Internet is considered an important tool; one with which it is easy to communicate with the public (See further Jo & Kim, 2003; Wright, 1998; Springston, 2001). As Hendrix (2004 ) rela tions with a variety of publics. The multiple uses of the Internet and computer technolog y have impacted the practice of public relations in a major, ever (p. 5). Therefore, it is obvious that the use of the Internet plays an important role in the field of public relations. According to Jo (2005), websites offer more space for news and stories to be delivered to the public, and particularly to journalists. Based on this, it is reasonable to conclude both that media relations have been revolutionized by the use of e mail and the Internet, and that

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17 media relations is one of the mo st widely used tools by public relations professionals (Vines, 2003) Hill and White (2000) suggest that websites are good tools for public relations practitioners to provide information to journalists and to offer easy access to journalists. In other wo rds, journalists also use websites to obtain information and thus improve the relationship between public relations professionals and journalists. In addition, Garrison (2000) found that journalists evaluate public relations based on the website content pr ovided by public relations professionals. Kiousis and Dimitrova (2004) also pointed out that the Internet opens up a new channel for sending credible and effective messages to members of a target audience. Hence, websites and the Internet provide functions of great usability in public relations. The main function of public relations is in relationship building. According to Cutlip and establishes, and maintains mutua lly beneficial relationships between an organization and the relationship between an organization and the public, many scholars have investigated this 2000; Brunig and Ledingham, 2000; Center and Broom, 2000). According to Jo (2005), the relationship practitioners can use the Internet and websites to develop long term relationships. For instance, if public relations professionals want to build aw areness among their target public about a specific issue, they can use websites to make announcements about that issue.

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18 The relationships built between other groups can also be enhanced by the Internet. Bauer, Grether, and Leach (2002) examined how the In ternet helps cultivate customer commitment, satisfaction, and trust. Accessing websites has a positive effect on trust; when people have trust in an organization, they tend to be more committed to it. Thus, the Internet and websites are beneficial to nurtu ring relationships. Reber and Kim (2006) analyzed how activist groups use online resources and websites to maintain media relations. Most activist websites build a dialogue between the activist group and the public by providing general contact information and response mechanisms, so activist organizations take advantage of the characteristics of Internet communication when they advocate on behalf of their organizations. To sum up, meaningful interaction between an organization and its various stakeholders can be enhanced by use of the Internet, which offers opportunities for organizations to carry out public relations communications in an interactive manner to maintain relationships. The interactive characteristics of the Internet provide an opportunity to improve corporate images, to collect and analyze public opinions, to facilitate corporate agenda setting, and to increase corporate accountability. Internet news generates ratings of higher credibility than traditional media does (Johnson & Kaye, 1998), a nd it can facilitate effective two way communication based on its interactive functions. Since credibility is an important indicator of successful communication, it plays an important role in public relations field. Therefore, an examination of the effect of interactivity features of in online information credibility could be helpful to public relations practitioners. Social Media in Public Relations The most distinguishing feature of the Internet is the high level of interaction that it affords users, and interactivity is essential to relationship building. The Internet empowers receivers to interact with senders and facilitates dialogues between the two parties (Kelleher & Miller, 2006;

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19 Kent & Taylor, 1998; Seltzer, 2005).Through interactivity, websites ca n facilitate media, relations, employee communication, government relations, and customer relations (Johnson, 1997). A recent trend in online news is the use of social media (Stassen, 2010). According to Stassen (2010), one of the major characteristics of social networking is its high level of interactivity (Ludtke, 2009:4). Picard (2009:11) also argued that social media and blogs provide many opportunities for users to express themselves and connect with people. Social media platforms like Facebook and Tw itter are good tools with which to gauge interactivity compared with traditional campaign websites. According to Taylor and Kent (2010), social media are playing an increasingly important role in public relations. alists can get information, ideas, and feedback from their audiences by using social media. Through their constant interaction with users, journalists develop a different type of relationship than they do by interacting with traditional mass communication media alone. In addition, many studies have examined public relations practitioners themselves, doing and analyzing employment by using social media tools (Eyrich, Padman, & Sweetser, 2008; Dow Jones & PRSA, 2007; Schwartzman et al., 2009). Wright and Hin son (2008) claimed that public relations practitioners should incorporate social media in their communication and relationship (2 008, p. 4); with a third of Americans using blogs as an informational source (Smith, 2008), public relations practitioners are increasingly reaching out to the community by using blogs to pitch organizational stories and press news release through social m edia.

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20 According to Sweetser (2010), social media tools allow their users to participate in social networking through blogs or Facebook. Moreover, companies use these tools to create content and post it online for user discussion. In addition, blogs and so cial networking sites are a convenient way for consumers and watchdogs to track companies for departures from the image of the organization (Sweetser, 2010). However, according to Lenhart (2009), only about a third of all adults in the U.S. use social medi a, and about half of that number are young adults, age 18 25 (p. 5). Perhaps most importantly, young (teenage) social media users use the technology solely for entertainment purposes, while only one in four adult users between 3 percent and 8 percent of th e adult population use social media for networking or professional purposes (p. 6). It is clear that, despite its apparent prevalence, few people are using it for purposes other than its entertainment function. Therefore, examining the credibility of onlin e information on social media is meaningful in this study. Credibility The study of credibility has a long history, and one which has been a major constituent of mass communication (Kiousis, 2001). Credibility is divided into two distinct areas of research These are the studies that focus on source credibility and those that focus on medium credibility (Kiousis, 2001), the word 'medium' is used here in the sense of the 'medium' by which a message is communicated. Source credibility studies have examined how different the characteristics of a communicator affect the way in which people judge the message being delivered (e.g., characteristics of the communicator also app ear to affect whether or not a person accepts a persuasive message delivered by them (Hovland & Weiss, 1951; Metzger et al., 2003). Fairly

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21 clearly, credibility plays an important role in whether can persuade us to behave in a certain way ( Hovland, Janis, & Kelley, 1953). This leads naturally to an examination of the features of media messages and whether our perceptions of credibility are influenced by the characteristics of the media which delivers them (Austin & Dong, 1994; Wathen & Burkell, 2002). Due t o our increasingly multimedia environment, researchers have recently also begun to focus on differences between medium and channel (Thorson, Vraga, & Ekdale, 2010). Medium credibility studies have already examined the role of the channel through which a me ssage is delivered (Kiousis, 2001; Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Newhagen & Nass, 1989; Slater & Rouner, 1996). Medium credibility research has also assessed the degree of trust people have in one particular medium as a whole (e.g., television, newspapers, the I nt ernet. See Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Sundar, 1999; Flanagin & Metzger, 2000). Although the two terms do slightly overlap, they both need to be discussed (Kiousis, 2001). The Internet is now considered a powerful information medium, which lends significant cr edibility to media messages found online (Metzger et al., 2003). However, Sundar and Stavrositu (2006) indicate that Internet credibility has not yet been fully investigated and any attempt to assess its credibility is both problematic and challenging. The y go on to opine that it is important to assess the credibility of the Internet as a whole because it represents a special and unique communication environment which can express both personal as well as organizational voices. Therefore, h ow does the nature of the Internet impact the overall credibility is an important topic to investigate. Source Credibility Credibility is a major factor affecting information sources (Jo, 2005). Many scholars have examined the impact of source credibility (Hovland, 1953; Ch aiken, 1994; Slater and Rouner, 1997; Johnson and Kaye, 1998; Austin and Dong, 1995; Sundar, 1998), determining that there

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22 are two main dimensions of source credibility: expertise and trustworthiness (Hovland et al., 1953; McGuire, 1969). Expertise is defi ned as how well informed a communicator is about a specific topic (Hovland et al., 1953) and how correct his or her viewpoint on that topic is (McGuire, 1969). Trustworthiness is defined as how consumers judge the message by their perception of the communi However, other variables also affect source credibility (Kiousis, 2001); for example, based 1985) source valence model, attractiveness is another factor of source credibility. constructs of source credibility. Berlo, Lemert, and Mertz (1969) also proposed the dimensions of safety, qualification, and dynamism. In addition to expertise and trustworthiness, researchers in the advertising and marketing fields also incorporated other constructs to assess source credibility (Simpson & Kahler, 1980 81; Wynn, 1987): me ssage quality, believability, sociability, and potency. Moreover, McCroskey and Teven (1999) conceptualized a three dimensional model of credibility: competence, caring, and character. Competence concerns certain behavior of a person (McCroskey, 1971). C aring concerns how much an individual is concerned about his welfare, or that of others. Character concerns Although various definitions of source credibility have been discussed in academic r esearch, expertise and trustworthiness have been the most widely used and applied dimensions (Hovland et al., 1953; Hovland & Weiss, 1951; McCracken, 1989; Ohanian, 1990). Source credibility is a crucial element of persuasion theory. It is one of the mos t important factors for effective communication. It has been observed that a message source serve as

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23 antecedents to attitudes. Hovland and Weiss (1951) found that highly credible sources have a greater ability to trigger a change of opinion in people. A me ssage attributed to a low credibility source was perceived as less fair and justifiable. Due to a number of studies have confirmed a positive effect of source credibility on message effectiveness and attitude (Hovland & Weiss, 1951; Lafferty et al., 2002; MacKenzie & Lutz, 1989) Hovland and Weiss, Maddux and Rogers (1980) found that people accepted expert sources more readily than inexpert sources. Other studies have also claimed that a highly credible source would lead to more effective persuasion (Johnso n, Torcivia, & Poprick, 1968; McGinnies & Ward, 1980; Warren, 1969). Many studies have shown that little cues have more impact on subjects, which are low publi biased information to the public (Jo, 2005) and this is the true meaning of journalists and media professionals. Therefore, media are used to validate source credi bility and thus promote publicity (Hallahan, 1999). In summary, source credibility can be seen as the perceived expertise and trustworthiness or truthfulness of a firm. If corporate credibility is lacking, then public relations practitioners cannot use any promotional message to build a positive image of the firm, and the public may have a negative response (LaBarbera, 1982). Overall, credibility plays an important role in forming perceptions of corporations. Medium Credibility Johnson and Kaye (1998) studi ed Web users who were interested in politics and found they rated both online political information and information from traditional media as only sectional survey to explore the perceived credibility of television, newspapers, and the Internet (Kiousis 2001 ). His results showed that newspapers rate highest in credibility for news information, followed by Internet

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24 news and television broadcasting. Kiou s is' study revealed that the medium through which the message is delivered affects the perception of its credibility. In the contemporary media environment, credibility research has evolved with the study of new media (i.e., the Internet) This is mainly because information dissemination via the Internet as opposed to other traditional medi a has the apparent lack of reliable gatekeeping; with the result that various information and presentation formats become less and less distinguishable from each other (Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Alexander & Tate, 1999; Fl anagin & Metzger, 2000; Metzger et al., 2003). So far, the studies have yielded inconsistent results. While most studies compare the medium of the Internet with other, more traditional, media (e.g., newspaper, television), some have revealed its superiorit y (Kiousis, 2001; Johnson & Kaye, 2002), others its inferiority (Johnson & Kaye, 1998) based on perceived medium credibility. Further research has argued that perceptions of medium credibility are in fact highly comparable (Sundar, 1999; Flanagin & Metzger 2000). While most of these studies have examined the same relationship between medium use and perceptions of credibility, the reason for these differential effects still requires investigation. The fact that people rely on a certain medium is positively associated with perceptions as to its credibility (Carter & Greenberg, 1965; Johnson & Kaye, 1998; Flanagin & Metzger, 2000). It means that the more people that are perceived to use a certain medium, the more credibility that medium is perceived to have. According to Carter and arguments people tend to evaluate their preferred medium (i.e. the one they use and rely on the most) as the most credible. Sundar and Stavrositu (2006) also discovered that the use amount of a medium is associa ted with the In other words, p eople have more motivation to use, and more purpose in

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25 This hypothesis cannot only be applied to a traditional media environm ent but also in the new media environment (Sundar & Stavrositu, 2006). The Internet and Website Credibility Many studies have examined whether an audience perceives the news depending on different types of media such as newspaper, television or online medi research, he found that Internet news was thought of as more credible than television news. Similarly, Brady (1996) and Johnson and Kaye (1998) also concluded Internet news is perceived as more credible, or at least as credible as traditional news. According the Pew Research declined in recent years. Also ment indicated online sources has cha Such evidence shows that the credibility of information on the Internet is increasingly perceived as crucial in the field of communications. The Internet offers new and more accessible ways t o combine and use content from diverse media sources (Thorson, Vraga, & Ekdale, 2010). However, because anyone can post information on a website, the possibility of unchecked and misleading information does increase. According to the Pew Research Center ( 2001), approximately 104 million American adults have access to the Internet. Hence, understanding how people use it to obtain information becomes of the utmost importance, both to users and providers (Eastin, 2001). Millions of people use an Internet sear ch engine, to search for a wide variety of information including medical and health information, product and commercial information, political and news information, as well as entertainment, travel and many other kinds of information (Fallows, 2005).

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26 Due to the mass of available information on line, such information seekers rely on the Web heavily (Fallows, 2005). This raises the question of the credibility of online information (Metzger, 2005). According to Stavrositu and Sundar (2004), web credibility re search is largely confluent to traditional credibility research. In the new media field, scholars have typically conveyed well established credibility variables such as source credibility or medium credibility into the new web environment. Websites could b e conceptualized as that represent organizational or individual sources while also reflecting the characteristics of those sources through design feature of the sites t ( Flanagin & Metzger 2003 a p 5). Based on th e st atement of Stavrositu and Sundar (2004) they assumed that websites are information sources themselves and that the credibility of websites thus relates to traditional source credibility, but in an online environment. They further indicated that researcher s who examined websites' credibility have attempted to apply the classical dimensions of source credibility trustworthiness, expertise, dynamism, sociability and composure as identified by Hovland, Janis, and Kelly (1953) into the online environment. The communication evolved into a new era at the launch of Web. 2.0; the beginning of an era allow s every Internet user the ability to contribute much more information than before Now anyone can access political information through the Internet such as on Wikis, blogs or social networking sites. For example, Johnson, Kaye, Bichard, and Wong (2007) thought of the use of the blog as an easy to use technology allowing politically int erested citizens to be both creators and consumers. Whil e using their blog s users can also share their opinions and discuss anything with messages but also decr eases the possibility of inaccurate information.

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27 Traditional media sources wish for professionals to provide unbiased and accurate information and to convey it correctly. However, according to Cline and Haynes (2001), websites lack these professional gate keepers who help define the traditional media and thus the evaluation. This is because people may use different criteria to judge credibility according to the inform ation presented (Newhagen & Nass, 1989). Therefore, investigating the credibility of online information will be crucial in this study. Interactivity Interactivity has played a leading role in the Internet apart from other media (Ha & James, 1998; Lustria, 2007). It makes website to be a dynamic and vivid medium for two way communication, in contrast to traditional media. Also, interactivity can be useful in creating brand identity (Upshaw, 1995), facilitating to nurture online relationship (Cuneo, 1995), an d exercising greater control over information seeking (Hoffman & Novak, 1996). These features of interactivity could help public relations professionals make relationship management into practice. In the past decades, many scholars examined the nature in interactivity between users in computer mediated communication such as Rafaeli (1988) As Barnes (2001) states: social dynamics, interactivity is associated with message qualities that encourage people to respond and/ or interact with other grou p members. These qualities include asking questions, requesting opinions from other people, or making provocative statements. Interactivity can lead However, when examine the interacti vity of websites, it has been defined in terms of the number of "links" (hyperlinks and email links) that are available to users (Kiousis, 2003). For users, more hyperlinks to connect, higher interactivity they perceive.

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28 Recent research has not looked at interactive features and credibility, but has combined interactive features with other factors. Sundar, Hesser, Kalyanaraman, and Brown (1998) indicated inter activity in a site led to higher pe rceptions of trustworthiness toward candidates. the notion that interactive features on political information websites positively increase young Similarly, Kiousis and Dimitrova credibility based on design elements embedded in the site. credibility ; i nstead, the interactivity and grap hics may have more credibility among users. Furthermore, i turn enhance political participation (Sundar, Kalyanaraman & Brown, 2003). Therefore, the influence of interactiv ity on credibility assessment attitudes towards the candidate, and intentions for political participation may be an important factor to be observed when participants used interactive content. Different researchers have used different conceptualizations of interactivity (Heeter, 1989). With the increasing use of media, interactivity often refers to users having the potential to be both sources and recipients of content and interaction (e.g., December, 1996). According to Pavlik (1996), the study indicated t hat There is no generally accepted and well informed definition of interactivity and differe nt researchers have used different conceptualizations of interactivity (Heeter, 1989). To sum up, based on research very few studies examined interactivity on the credibility of online information and high interactivity does not always lea d to high credibility; thus

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29 interactivity is the independent variable in this research to test the credibility of online political information. Level of Involvement Several studies have examined the relationship between source credibility and level of abil ity and motivation as they relate to message processing. These studies have paid particular involvement with the issue (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993; Petty & Caciopp o, 1986). Results have the credibility of the source (Perloff, 2008). According to many studies, when people are more motivated and possess a greater ability to process messages, source credibility does not affect persuasion. Conversely, when people have little motivation and ability to process messages, highly credible sources are more persuasive compared to those with low credibility. Such conclusions are con sistent with the research of Treise, Walsh Childers, Weigold, and Friedman (2003), who determined that involvement is a major factor that determines the persuasive effects s low, they will demonstrate low motivation and ability (Johnson & Scileppi, 1969; Rhine & Severance, 1970; Perloff, 2008); thus, a highly credible source would be more meaningful and persuasive than a source with low credibility. However, research has sug gested that credibility is not a significant factor affecting persuasiveness when an individual is highly involved in an issue. Rather, only those who lack the ability or motivation to evaluate a message will be more likely to believe a credible source. In light of these findings, the E laboration L ikelihood M odel (ELM) (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) is appropriate theory to discuss the relationship between motivation and involvement in determin ing why specific factors (i.e., motivation and the ability to proces s the message) affect

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30 source credibility. Both the ELM, proposed by Petty and Cacioppo (1986), and the heuristic systematic model (HSM), developed by Eagly and Chaiken (1993), suggest two different information processing mechanisms. According to ELM theory people process communication in two distinct ways, or routes (Perloff, 2008), namely, the central route and the peripheral route. Specifically, people use the central route to process a message that requires substantive cognitive elaboration (Petty & Cac ioppo, 1986), which tends to occur when individuals are motivated, highly involved in an issue, and have knowledge about a given topic. the message quickly or focus o n simple cues to help them decide whether to accept the position arguments, and physical attraction are all factors that affect the peripheral route (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986). Con sidering these routes, ELM proposes that people will not devote the same amount of cognitive effort to every message they process and the level of involvement for an issue will moderate how readers process and evaluate information. This dual processing mes sage approach further suggests that source credibility affects persuasion depending on the level of elaboration of the message received by the individual (Tormala, Briol, & Petty, 2007). Based on ELM, Petty and Cacioppo (1994) felt that source credibility is powerful when the message is not a personal issue of the individual. To elaborate, when an individual is highly involved on the issue or message, central route processing occurs. On the other hand, when an individual has either low ability or low motiv ation to indulge in an issue, peripheral route processing occurs (Petty, Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981). Further, when an individual expresses a low involvement with a given issue, a highly credible source is more likely to generate attitude change compared to a low credibility source (Johnson & Schileppi,

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31 1969). Ratneshwar and Chaiken (1991) also found that individuals with low levels of comprehension more often express positive attitudes compared to experts or individuals with high levels of comprehension of the issue. As such, involvement may also affect the ability of a source to persuade an individual with at low elaboration levels. Many studies have defined how people search for information based on motivation and ability (Sapp, 1992). However, consideri ng the wealth of information available on the I nternet, little is known about evaluating the credibility of this web based information (Treise et al., 2003); therefore, involvement one necessary independent variable to test the influence of credibility of online political information. The ELM was applied in the current study becaus e past research has shown that this theory is effective in explaining attitude change under various conditions (Lin, 2005). Specifically, if participants considered political issu es highly personally relevant, according to the ELM, these message receivers would pay more attention and examine the messages carefully. Therefore, it is predicted that citizens who considered the political issues highly relevant would engage in central r oute processing and would give more consideration to the political information presented. According to Free d man (1964), the more a person cares or concerns about an issue, the more likely he or she will form a specific attitude toward the issue and become involved in the position. Therefore, investigating how different levels of involvement affect attitude is meaningful in this highly involved persons express more negative evaluations of a communication because their high involvement is associated with expression of rejection. Thus, message receivers may reject incoming messages involving issues such as political views of a candidate. As such, if a citizen rejects or does not agree with the political views of a candidate, he or she may not trust the

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32 candidate or may decrease their intentions of political participation. Therefore, this study will also examine the relationship between different levels of involvement a political participation. Attitude towards the Candidate and Intention for Political Participation The Internet plays an important role in political communication (Wang, 2007). It allows its users to select and choose any kind of political information they want to get. Its potential for interactivity between audiences and sources and its wealth of information all have significant consequences for facilitating widespread political change (Wang, 2007). I n addition, perceive interact ivity on political Web sites has a significant effect on attitude toward the politician (Song & Bucy, 2006). Those new mechanisms such as Internet forums and chat rooms constitute an example of the new communication of interactivity. And according to Wang (2007), the interactivity of the Internet will have some impact on political attitudes and activities, thus the Nisbet and Scheufele (2004) also discovered that the interaction between pol itical great impact on campaign participation. Furthermore, the use of the Internet can cause attitudes and values to change with regard to political participation ( Anduiza, Cantijoch, & Gallego, 2009) For example, m any Internet users receive e mails with non solicited political information sent by friends or family members and these political stimuli can have a significant impact on motivations for political partici pation and attitudes changes towards political issues. Attitudinal changes would occur especially with more frequent access to the Internet, and increased exposure to online election news is positively associated with voting and other forms of political p articipation, Tolbert and McNeal (2003) found.

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33 Some optimistic studies showed that Internet access has positive effects on civic engagement, such as increasing politi cal interest and thus enhancing opinion expression (Jennings & Zeitner, 2003; Tolbert & McNeal, 2003). It may also increase access of voter information about candidates and elections, and thus increase political participation (Bonchek, 1997). On the other hand, some skeptical scholars found limited effects of Internet use on political knowledge, political efficacy and political participation (Hardy & Scheufele, 2005; Norris, 1999; Scheufele & Nisbet, 2002). They asserted that the Internet cannot cause peopl e to suddenly become political participation, and it is not always definitive that searching for political information on the Internet is positively assoc iated with political participation. Therefore, it is meaningful to investigate whether online political information would cause an increas ing intention in political participation. Research Questions and Hypotheses Based on the preceding literature review, the study explored the following research questions hypotheses and research question : H ypothesis 1: Source credibility will be more powerful for participants who are low as compared to high in involvement of political information. H ypothesis 2 : Participa nts will rate political information on high interactive Facebook site as being more credible than will participants viewing the same information on low interactive Facebook site. Research question 1 1: How do different levels of involvement of political in formation influence people's attitude towards the candidate?

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34 Research question 1 2: How do different levels of involvement of political information influence people's intentions for political participation? H ypothesis 3 1 : High (versus low) interactivity of a political Facebook site will produce more favorable attitudes toward the candidate. H ypothesis 3 2 : High (versus low) interactivity of a political Facebook site will produce more positive intentions toward his or her pol itical participation. H ypothes is 4 1 : Perceived credibility is positively related to citizens candidate Hypothesis 4 2: Perceived credibility is positively related to citizens intention toward his or her political participation

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35 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY The purp ose of this study was to explore how variations in interactivity and level of involvement of Facebook sites influenced user attitudes toward s the candidate and intentions for political participation and their perceptions of its credibility. Accordingly, a 2 (high involvement versus low involvement) X 2 (interactivity: high interactive Facebook site versus low interactive Facebook site ) between subjects experimental design was employed to examine those relationships. The main advantage in the experimental me thod is that it allows researchers to establish causality between two or more variables (Wimmer & Dominick, 2003). Prior to the main study, a pretest was conducted to determine a significant difference in the level of interactivity on a Facebook site and d ifferent level of issue involvement among participants Based on the results of the pretest, stimulus materials were created for the main study. As for sample gathering, participants were recruited from college students at University of Florida. Stimuli Fo ur fictitious Facebook site s were created to serve as stimuli for this experiment. The content of the Facebook site ( political information ) participants read, compiled from the Web site of Florida congressman Allen Boyd (http://www.boydforcongress.com/) an d Illinois Senate candidates Mark Kirk (http://www.kirkforsenate.com/) and Alexi Giannoulias (http://www.alexiforillinois.com/), covered basic information about the fictitious candidate Andrew Miller (Appendix B) The content was presented on a generic Fac ebook sit e to eliminate site s. As for the design, basic Facebook template interface will be used in this study. There are two navigation bars (Info & Wall sections) on the top of the site and a photo of Andrew Miller on the left side of the site. All

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36 the conditions on the Facebook sit e, such as the design and content, were kept constant, except for the changes to accommodate the independent variable s, as explained below. The two main independent variables for this research were the involvement and interactive features. W ill the presence of different level of issue involvement among participants affect the online political information credibility ? To investigate this question, the headers of the f our Facebook sites which showed different statements of citizenship were varied to reflect the following differences in terms of involvement: low (lower tuition in California) and high (lower tuition in Florida). Interactivit y The Andrew Miller Facebook site was especially developed for this site page was professionally designed in two different versions to incorporate high and low levels of interactivity. Followi ng Liu and Shrum (2002), the primary dimensions of technical interactivity that were explored in this study were active user control, sensory stimulation, and two way communication. In its high interactivity version, the Facebook site offered users the ab ility to customize information flow and show ed a high potential for reciprocal communication. Participants could browse through the information categories indicated on several navigation tools such as the personal website link, biographic al information, notes, or events sections. The site also displayed video content and the photos of Andrew Miller were grouped by subjects. These features allowed participants to interact with the Facebook sit e by selecting the order of information they wan ted to see at each moment. This manipulation was consistent with the definition of active control (i.e., whether viewers are able to interact with the system to choose what they want to see) (Liu & Shrum, 2002) In addition, the high interactivity version featured

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37 more response mechanisms, such as a message board, comment section, a telephone number, and an e interactivity Facebook sit e, participants could post a comment or share this pol itical information with their Facebook friends. They even could write a message or an e mail to Andrew Miller. The Wall experience, background and the latest campaign n ews were displayed. In contrast, participants viewing the low interactivity version had minimal navigation options and fewer information categories. The site was analogous to viewing a print advertisement of the candidate in which citizens are less able t o control the experience. In this low interactivity version Facebook sit information without contact information and all the photos were not grouped by subject In addition, participants could not post a comment on wall section and could not send a message or an e mail to Andrew Miller. In agreement with M c Millan and Hwang (2002) the low interactive site was designed to have fewer interactive features and fewer opportunities for interactive exchange. Each stimulus provided multiple opportunities for different levels of interaction, and participants were instructed to engage in activities appropriate to their assigned level of interactivity. Pretest The purpose of the pretest was to determine whether the par ticipants were able to perceive a significant difference in the level of interactivity and involvement In order to make sure different interactivity Facebook sites work successfully, participants was executed before the main study. All students were recru ited on the campus of the University of Florida and assigned to one of the two different interactive conditions randomly.

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38 A survey questionnaire asked participant s to evaluate the two Facebook site s interactivity. First, the test subjects were randomly e xposed to one of the two versions of a Facebook site a high or low interactive version. During that time, participants were directed to explore the Facebook site freely. Then, they were asked to answer the pretest questionnaire, which asked participants will serve as the basis for improving the study materials and making this study more efficient. d corresponding voting rights of students at the University of Florida. For high involvement candidate who is running for Congress in the upcoming election in F lorida. He supports lowering student tuition from the beginning summer term 2011 in the state of Florida. Please evaluate the political information presented on his Facebook sit involvement groups, the instruction in the quest Congress in the upcoming election in California He supports lowering student tuition from the beginning summer term 2011 in the state of California Please evaluate the political information pr esented on his Facebook site These two different involvement groups would be asked to see two Facebook sites with different levels of interactivity and then answer the questionnaire (Appendix D) Pretest Result The 30 respondents, 14 males ( 47 %) and 1 6 f emales ( 53 %), had a mean age of 23. 50 years old. Of these respondents, 1 6 ( 53 %) were undergraduate and 14 students ( 47 %) were graduate students. To test the effectiveness of the experimental manipulation, a t test, with perceived interactivity as the depe ndent variable and level of technical interactivity as the independent

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39 variable, was performed. A t test with perceived involvement as the dependent variable and level of involvement as the dependent variable, was performed as well. As expected, the high interactivity group rated their site as more interactive ( M =4.47, SD =0.64 n = 1 5 ) compared to the low interactivity group ( M = 1.42 SD = 0. 59 n = 1 5 ). Results of the t test (as shown in Table 3 1 ) showed that these differences were statistically signifi cant, t =1 3.581 p <0.05. This analysis shows that the high interactivity site was indeed perceived to be more interactive than the low interactivity site. Furthermore, f rom the pre test, a successful manipulation of involvement was obtained ( M high = 3.87, S D =1.28, n =15 ; M low = 1.42, SD = 0.61, n =15 ; t = 6.668 p <.05). The mean score of involvement index from the high involvement group is significantly higher than those from the low involvement group and the t test showed that these different levels of involv ement were statistically significant (See Table 3 2) Main Study The main study used a 2 (high involvement versus low involvement) X 2 (interactivity: high interactive Facebook site versus low interactive Facebook site ) between subjects experimental design Different levels of involvement were operated from questionnaire design and divided into two groups: high involvement and low involvement. The issue involvement (political information) was manipulated by using different instructions for the questionnaire and different statements post on the Facebook site: lowering tuition in Florida and lowering tuition in California On the other hand, Facebook site interactivity was manipulated by offering either a high interactive Facebook site or low interactive Faceb ook site The experiment employed a student sample, and participants were randomly assigned to one of four treatment conditions (See Table 3 3).

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40 Sample and Procedure A total of 164 university students for th is experiment were volunteers in introductory cou Participants they complete the study. This study received Institutional Review Bo ard approval (Study: U 1 246 20 10 ) on January, 20 11 (Appendix C ). One of four links of a political relate d Facebook sites was randomly assigned to each participant (Appendix A). Thus, participants were randomly assigned to one of the four political Facebook site and allowed to browse them online. The questionnaire began with an introduction that explained the purpose of the research, the estimated time needed to complete the questionnaire, and a discussion of how the rotected. Students who volunteered to participate in the study were informed that they were free to withdraw from the study at any time without consequences. For the purpose of this study, each participant was asked to read through the political informatio n presented on Andrew Miller s Facebook site before completing the rest of the questionnaire. Participants were classified into high/low involvement groups in first part of the questionnaire. In the next section, participants were asked to read through the high/low version of Facebook page s before completing the rest of the questionnaire. After reading the information of the political candidate, they responded to questions or measures related to perceived credibility, interactivity, attitude toward the cand idate, and intentions for political participation. At the end of the questionnaire, demographic information was collected (Appendix E)

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41 Independent Variables Level of Involvement ividuals process information. In this study, involvement is defined in terms of issue involvement which g to Apsler and Sears (1968), people always hope and expect that the issue has significant consequences for their lives. Therefore, it is clear that participants with high levels of involvement would have more motivation to engage in the issue with thought ful consideration. Involvement level was measured using six questions which closely paralleled the study of Petty, Capcioppo and Schumann (1993) and Ellen and Bone (1998). It asked participants to evaluate their interests on a five point Likert scale: (1) How much d o you pay attention to the political information presented on the Facebook site? ; (2) How much were you motivated to read the political information presented on the Facebook site? ; (3) How important are the political issues addressed o n the Faceb ook site to you personally?; (4) How much are you concerned about the political issues on this Facebook site? ; (5) I paid close attention to the political information presented on the Facebook site. ; (6) I carefully read the political information presented on the Facebook site (Table 3 5) Cronbach s alpha of involvement = .92 (Table 3 4). Facebook Site Interactivity Facebook site interactivity was manipulated by exposing participants to either a high or low interactive political Facebook site To determin of interactivity of the Facebook sites online interactivity was measured using six questions in the On a five p oint scale anchored by strongly disagree and strongly agree, respondents were asked

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42 to signify their agreement to the following statements: (1) I felt that I had a lot of control over my experiences at this Facebook site. (2) While I was on the Facebook si te, I could choose freely what I wanted to see. (3) The Facebook Facebook site makes me feel like it wants to listen to its visitors. (5) The Facebook site gives visitors the opportunity to talk ba subject. (7) The Facebook site allowed me to post comments. (8) The Facebook site allowed me to send a message to the candidate. (9) Overall, the Facebook site is interactive (Table 3 5) Cron bach s alpha of site interactivity = .98 (Table 3 4). Dependent Variable s Perceived Credibility A variety of dimensions have been used in past studies to assess perceived credibility of media messages (Gaziano & McGrath 1986; Meyer 1988) and thus it is obv ious that credibility is a multidimensional and complicated construct. The main focus of this study was on perceived credibility of online political information. Adopted from items developed for a study by Johnson and Kaye (2000), as well as from indicator s used by Kiousis (2003) in his study on the credibility assessments of online political information, five dimensions of measures were used for this study: fairness, bias, depth, accuracy, and believability (Table 3 5) All have been described as valid, re liable dimensions by which to measure perceived credibility of a message (Gaziano & indicators in this study were measured using f ive semantic differential items wit h scores ranging from 1 to 5. Cronbach s alpha of perceived credibility = .95 (Table 3 4). Attitude towards the Candidate and Intentions for Political Participation Attitude was conceptualized as an evaluative response to the stimulus material the candidat e In this study, t o measure attitude toward the candidate the most frequently used

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43 multi dimensional scale (unfavorable favorable, bad good, dislike like, and negative positive) in the 1990s Journal of Advertising was adopted (Woo, 2001). The respondents is your attitude toward the candidate after reading political information presented on the Web site five point scale regarding the following items: unfavorable/favorable, bad/go od, dislike/like, and negative/positive (Table3 5) Cronbach s alpha of attitude towards the candidate = .99 (Table 3 4). Political campaigns are the main factor in political communication (Wang, 2007). Voting is a key indicator about political participat ion but o ther forms of political participation were accepted such as contacting an official, writing a letter to favorite candidate and financial contributions (Moy, Torres, Tanaka, & McCluskey, 2005). involved in the upc oming election will be measured in the questionnaire. Questions about political participation will include items measuring frequency of voting in past elections; intentions to vote in the upcoming midterm election; past and prospective campaign volunteer w ork; donations of money or time to organizations with political goals; membership in political and social groups such as Young Democrats or nongovernment organizations such as Greenpeace; attendance at political functions or meetings such as state, county or city legislative or advisory commission meetings; and political campaign rally attendance (Table 3 5) All these measuring scales were developed by the study of Brady (1993). Intentions for political participation in this study were measured using Liker t type items with scores ranging from 1 to 5. Cronbach s alpha of intentions for political participation = .93 (Table 3 4).

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44 Table 3 1 Result of T test: perceived the level of interactivity. M SD N t Sig. (two tailed) Facebook site High interactivity 4.47 0.64 15 13.581 .00 0 *** Low interactivi ty 1.42 0.59 15 Note. *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 Table 3 2 Result of T test: perceived the level of in volvement M SD N t Sig. (two tailed) High involvement group 3.87 1.28 15 6.668 .00 0 *** Low involvement group 1.42 0.61 15 Note. *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 Tab le 3 3 Conditions of the 2x2 experimental design Involvement High Low Web site interactivity High Group (1) Group (2) Low Group (3) Group (4) Table 3 4 Reliability Check s Variabl es Independent variable Involvement .92 Interactivity .98 Dependent variable Pe rceived credibility .95 Attitude towards the candidate .99 Intentions for political participation .93

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45 Table 3 5 Construct measurement summary Variab les Scale items Interactivity Credibility Attitude toward s the candidate Involvement Intention for political participation 1. I felt that I ha d a lot of control over my experiences at this Facebook site. 2. While I was on the Facebook site, I could choose freely what I wanted to see. 3. The Facebook site is effective in gathering visitors' feedback. 4. The Facebook site makes me feel like it wants to lis ten to its visitors. 5. The Facebook site gives visitors the opportunity to talk back to the candidate. 6. 7. The Facebook site allowed me to post comments. 8. The Facebook site allowed me to send a message to the candid ate. 9. Overall, the Facebook site is interactive. 1. Accurate 2. Believable 3. Biased 4. Fair 5. Satisfactory 1. Unfavorable/favorable 2. Bad/good 3. Dislike/like 4. Negative/positive 1. How much d o you pay attention to the political information presented on the Facebook site? 2. How much w ere you motivated to read the political information presented on the Facebook site? 3. How important are the political issues addressed o n the Facebook site to you personally? 4. How much are you concerned about the political issues on this Facebook site? 5. I paid close attention to the political information presented on the Facebook site. 6. I carefully read the political information presented on the Facebook site. 1. Participate in the upcoming election. 2. Discuss politics with others in the near future. 3. Attend political rallies, meetings, or campaign events in the near future. 4. S upport your favorite candidate financially with donations in the near future. 5. Volunteer to do campaign work for your favorite candidate in the near future. 6. W rite letters or e mails to elected offi cials about issues you care deeply about. 7. Support your favorite candidate by posting a campaign sign or sticker on your property or person. 8. Participate in organized boycotts, protests, or demonstrations. 9. Gather signatures on a petition about a topic that y ou care deeply about in the near future. 10. S upport any organizations with social and/or political goals.

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46 Independent Variables Dependent Variables Figure 3 1 Theoret ical model of perceived credibility on the political Facebook page. Interactivity Involvement Perceived Credibility Attitude towards Political P articipation

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47 CHAPTER 4 RESULT Analysis Summary This section provides an overview of the statistical methods and parameters employed to analyze the proposed hypotheses and research questions The d ata set contained a total of 1 64 cases. SPSS 1 6 .0 was used for the statistical analysis. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was employed to explore H1 ( involvement information credibility), H2 (interactivity information credibility ) RQ1 ( involvement attitude towards the candidate and intentions for political participation ), and H3 (interactivity attitude towards the candidate and intentions for political participation) H 4 tested the relationship between credibility and attitude toward the c andidate and inten tions for political participation Since the two variables were measured by interval scales, a simple regression was used to assess the relationship between the two constructs. The next section provides descriptive statistics for all participants involved in the experiment, and the section following is devoted to addressing the results as they relate to the hypotheses and research questions. Profile of Participants The study sample included 164 university students comprised of 31 % ( n = 51 ) males and 69 % ( n = 11 3 ) females. The participant s ranged in age from 18 to 3 2 with a mean age of 2 1.63 years old. All participant s subject to analysis in this experiment were graduate or undergraduate students at the University of Florida. Most participant s were undergraduates ( 79 %), and the remainders were graduate students (21%) In terms of academic classification, 8 (5%) were freshmen, 1 9 ( 12 %) were sophomores, 47 ( 29 %) were juniors, 55 ( 34 %) were seniors and 3 5 ( 21 %) were graduate students.

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48 The 1 64 participants were random ly assigned to one of four conditions (Table 4 1). Of the participants 41 were in the low interactive Facebook site and high involvement group, 41 were in the high interactive Facebook site and high involvement group, 41 were in the low interactive Facebo ok site and low involvement group, and 41 were in the high interactive Facebook site and low involvement group. Manipulation Checks To test the effectiveness of the experimental manipulation, a manipulation check regarding the perceived level of the inform performed. As expected, a successful manipulation of involvement was obtained ( M high = 3.86, SD =1.09, n =76; M low = 1.81, SD = 0.86, n = 76; t =12.863, p <.05). The mean score on the involvement i ndex from the high involvement group is significantly higher than the mean score from the low involvement group (Table 4 2), and the t test showed that these different levels of involvement were statistically significant. The manipulation check of interact ivity worked successfully as well. T he high interactive groups rated their Facebook sites as more interactive ( M = 4.38 SD = 0. 65 n = 76 ) compared to the low interactive groups ( M = 1.82 SD = 0. 87 n = 76 ). Results of the independent sample t test (as s hown in Table 4 3 ) showed that these differences were statistically significant, t = 20.444 p <.05. Consistently with the results of the pretest, the manipulation check for perceived level of interactivity demonstrated that the manipulation was successful. I n addition, three questions for the manipulation check for interactivity were posed to determine whether participants can discern different levels of interactivity while answering the questionnaire. The three questions were stated as follows: (1) The Faceb ook site allowed me to post comments. (2) The Facebook site allowed me to send a message to the candidate. (3) The Among the 164 participant s, about 93% ( N =1 52 )

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49 answered the three questions correctly (the high in teractive group answered strongly agree or agree; the low interactive group answered strongly disagree or disagree). The data from 12 participants who did not answer all the three questions correctly were eliminated from the subsequent analysis, leaving a total valid sample of 152. In the valid sample, 37 were in the high interactive Facebook site and high involvement group, 39 were in the highly interactive Facebook site and low involvement group, 39 were in the low interactive Facebook site and high invol vement group, and 37 were in the low interactive Facebook site and low involvement group (Table 4 4), so the groups remained relatively evenly distributed. Sample Analysis The sample population for this study consisted of 164 university students. Of these, questionnaires collected from 1 52 were deemed valid, yielding various numbers of participant s for each condition. Among the participant s, 89.5 % ( n = 1 36 ) reported having us ed a computer for six years or more, and 9.9 % ( n = 15 ) of participants reported ha ving been Internet users for more than five years In addition, about 6 3.8 % percent ( n = 97 ) of respondents reported spending 2 5 hours getting general information from the Internet every day (Table 4 5 ). When asked about their general usage of the Interne t to look up political information, 42.1 ( n =64) of participants said they go online for getting political information several times a year About 25.7% ( n = 39 ) of them getting political news or information from the Internet once a week (Table 4 5) Resear ch Questions and Hypothesis Testing Effect of Involvement and Interactivity on Perceived Credibility H1: Source credibility will be more powerful for participants who are low as compared to high in involvement of political information. A n ANOVA test was us ed to determine whether any mean difference existed among the two groups and examine the interaction effect between involvement and interactivity As shown

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50 in Table 4 6, t he credibility mean score of the low involvement group ( M = 3. 46 SD = 1.02, n = 76 ) was significantly higher than that of the high involvement group ( M = 2.49 SD = 1.06 n = 76 ), suggesting that the political information from the low involvement group was perceived as being more credible than it was by the high involvement group. As show n in Table 4 8 the test yielded significant results, F ( 1 150 ) = 42.61 p <.05. Therefore, Hypothesis 1 was supported. H 2 : Participants will rate political information on high interactive Facebook site as being more credible than will participants viewing the same information on low interactive Facebook site. The next set of results examined interactivity in terms of its influence on perceived credibility of online political in formation. The hypothesis asked whether different levels of Facebook site interac tivity would affect user perceptions of information credibility. As shown in Table 4 7, t he credibility mean score of the high interactive Facebook site ( M = 3. 52 SD = 1.01, n = 76 ) was significantly higher than that of the low interactive Facebook site ( M = 2.43 SD = 1.01 n = 76 ), suggesting that the political information from the high interactive Facebook site was perceived as being more credible than that from the low interactive Facebook site. As shown in Table 4 8 the test yielded significant resul ts, F ( 1 150 ) = 53.45 p <.05. Therefore, Hypothesis 2 was supported. Effect of Involvement and Interactivity on Attitude towards the Candidate RQ 1 1: How do different levels of involvement of political information influence people's attitude towards the candidate? Most studies have found that a more credible source generates a greater level of attitude change when participants are less involved with a given issue (Johnson & Schileppi, 1969). However, none of the previous studies from the literature in th is area have directly tested the s the candidate.

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51 To answer Research Question 1 1, a n ANOVA test with attitude toward the candidate as a dependent variable was undertaken. T he test indicated a significant effect of involvement on attitude toward the candidate: F (1, 150) = 2 6.75 p <.05 (Table 4 11) The results in Tables 4 9 show ed that there are significant mean differences in attitude toward the candidate between the two dif ferent levels of involvement. The mean score of attitude toward the candidate for the group that saw information from a source with a low level of involvement was 3.65, and the mean score of attitude towards the candidate for the group that saw information from a source candidate were significantly higher under the low involvement condition than under the high involvement condition. H 3 1 : High (versus low) interac tivity of a political Facebook site will produce more favorable attitudes toward the candidate. To examine the effect of interactivity on attitude towards the candidate, a n ANOVA test was performed to compare the attitude mean difference between the high and low interactive groups. The results indicated that participants the high interactive Facebook site ( M = 3. 7 3, SD = 1.02 n = 76 ) than for the low interactive Facebook site ( M = 2. 71 SD = 1.13 n = 76 ) (T able 4 1 0 ). As shown in Table 4 1 1 the test yielded significant results, F ( 1 150 ) = 3 8.14 p <.05. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 1 was supported. Effect of Involvement and Interactivity on Intentions for Political Participation RQ 1 2: How do different levels of involvement of political information influence people's intentions for political participation? None of the previous studies from the literature in this field have directly tested the relationship between different levels of involvement by the informat intention to participate politically. To answer Research Question 1 2, a n ANOVA test with

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52 intentions for political participation as a dependent variable was undertaken. The test indicated a significant involvement effect on intent ions to participate politically: F (1, 150) = 12.277, p <.05 (Table 4 14) The results in Tables 4 1 2 show that there are significant mean differences in the intention to participate politically between the two levels of involvement. The mean score for inten tion to participate politically for the low involvement group was 2.98, and the mean score for the high politically was significantly higher under the low involvement condition t han under the high involvement condition. H 3 2 : High (versus low) interactivity of a political Facebook site will produce more positive intentions toward his or her pol itical participation. A n ANOVA test was performed to compare the mean difference between the high and low interactive groups on the intention to participate politically. The results indicated that participants intention mean score was significantly higher for the high interactive Facebook site ( M = 3. 01 SD = 0.85 n = 76 ) than for the low interactive Facebook site ( M = 2. 47 SD = 0.86 n = 76 ) (Table 4 1 3 ). As shown in Table 4 1 4 the test yielded significant results, F ( 1 150 ) = 15. 56 p <.05. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 2 was supported. Effect of Perceived Credibility on Attitude towards the C andidate and Intentions for Political Participation H 4 1 : Perceived credibility is positively related to citizens candidate Hypothesis 4 1 predicts perceived credibility to be positively related to attitude toward the candidate. A si mple regression was performed to determine the correlation between the two constructs (Table 4 1 5 ). The regression coefficient showed a positive association between perceived credibility and attitude toward the candidate and the relationship was statistic ally significant, R 2 =. 694 F (1, 1 50 ) = 340.85 p <.05. Thus, Hypothesis 4 1 was supported.

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53 H4 2: Perceived credibility is positively related to citizens intention toward his or her political participation Hypothesis 4 2 predicts perceived credibility to be positively related to the intention to participate politically. A nother simple linear regression was performed to determine the association between the two constructs (Table 4 1 6 ). The regression coefficient showed a positive association between percei ved credibility and intention to participate politically, and the relationship was statistically significant: R 2 =.278, F (1, 150) = 57.79 p <.05. Thus, Hypothesis 4 2 was supported. The regression coefficient also showed that perceived credibility has str onger effect on attitude toward the candidate ( = 0.833) than it does on the intention to participate politically ( = 0.527). To confirm the suggested causal relationships between the independent and dependent variables in the proposed model, several reg ression analyses were employed to examine how the perceived credibility, attitude toward the candidate, and the intention to participate politically. The result showed that there is a positive association between involvement and interactivity in their effect on perceived credibility, attitude toward the candidate, and intention to pa rticipate politically (Table 4 17 Table 4 18 Table 4 19 ).

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54 Table 4 1 Random assignment of participants in each condition. High involvement Low involvement Total High interactivity N=41 N=41 N=82 Low interactivity N=41 N=41 N=82 Total N=82 N=82 N=164 Table 4 2 Result of T test: perceived the level of involvement. M SD N t Sig. (two tailed) High involvement group 3.8 6 1. 09 76 12.863 .000 *** Low involvement group 1. 81 0. 86 76 Note. *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 Table 4 3 Result of t test: perceived the level of interactivity. M SD N t Sig. (tw o tailed) Facebook site High interactivity 4. 38 0.6 5 76 20.444 .000 *** Low interactivity 1. 8 2 0. 87 76 Note. *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 Table 4 4 Valid samples in four conditions. High involvement Low involvement Total High interactivity N=37 N=39 N=76 Low interact ivity N=39 N=37 N=76 Total N=76 N=76 N=152

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55 Table 4 5 General usage of the Internet Frequency P er cent Years for be an I nternet user One year or less 0 0.0% Two or three years ago 0 0.0% Four years ago 1 0.7% Five years ago 15 9.9% Six years or more 136 89.5% Total 152 100% Average hours on getting informat ion 0 3 2% 1 33 21.79% 2 5 97 63.8% 6 10 14 9.2% More than 10 5 3.3% Total 152 100% Usage of the Internet to look up political information Never 0 0.0% A few times a year 64 42% About once a month 37 24.3% About once a week 39 25.7% More th an once a week 12 7.9% Total 152 100% Table 4 6 Perceived credibility by involvement. M SD N Low involvement 3.46 1.02 76 High involvement 2.49 1.06 76 Table 4 7 Perceived credibility by interactivity. M SD N High interactivity 3.52 1.01 76 Low interactivity 2.43 1.01 76 Table 4 8 Effects of i nvolvement & interactivity on information cre dibility. Source of variation Sum of squares df F Sig. (two tailed) Involvement 33.9 7 1 42.61 .000*** Interactivity 42.61 1 53.45 .000*** Involvement*Interactivity 1.27 1 1.59 N.s Note. N=152 *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001

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56 Table 4 9 Attitude towards t he candidate by involvement. M SD N Low involvement 3.65 0.98 76 High involvement 2.79 1.23 76 Table 4 10 Attitude towards the candidate by in teractivity. M SD N High interactivity 3.73 1.02 76 Low interactivity 2.71 1.13 76 Table 4 11 Effects of i nvolvement & interactivity on attitu de towards the candidate Source of variation Sum of squares df F Sig. (two tailed) Involvement 26.51 1 26.75 .000*** Interactivity 37.80 1 38.14 .000*** Involvement*Interactivity .78 1 .79 N.s Note. N=152 *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 Table 4 12 Inten tions for political participation by involvement. M SD N Low involvement 2.98 0.77 76 High involvement 2.49 0.95 76 Table 4 13 Intentions for political participation by interactivity. M SD N High interactivity 3.01 0.85 76 Low interactivity 2.47 0.86 76 Table 4 14 Effects of i nvolvement & interactivity on intentions for political participation Source of variation Sum of squares df F Sig. (two tailed) Involvement 8.64 1 12.68 .000*** Interactivity 10.60 1 15.56 .000*** Involvemen t*Interactivity .43 1 63 N.s Note. N=152 *p<.05, **p<.01, ***p<.001 Table 4 15 R esult of regression, dependent variable: attitude towards the candidate. B Beta t Sig. (two tailed) (Constant) 0.650 4.351 .000 Perceived credibility 0.866 0.833 18.462 .000 *** Note. N= 152 R=. 833 R 2 =. 694 F (1, 1 50 ) = 340.853 ***, ***p<.001

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57 Table 4 16 R esult of regression, dependent variable: intentions for political participation. B Beta t Sig. (two tailed) (Constant) 1.510 8.740 .000 Perceived credibility 0.412 0.527 7.602 .000 *** Note. N= 152 R=. 527 R 2 =. 278 F (1, 1 50) = 57.793 ***, ***p<.001 Table 4 17 R esult of regression, dependent variable: perceived credibility. B Beta t Sig. (two tailed) (Constant) 2.767 13.350 .000 Involvement .364 .451 8.011 .000*** Interactivity .400 .522 9.270 .000*** Note. N= 152 R=. 732 R 2 =. 536 F ( 2 149) = 86.176 ***, ***p<.001 Table 4 18 R esult of regression, dependent variable: attitude towards the candidate. B Beta t Sig. (two taile d) (Constant) 2.816 11.966 .000 Involvement .304 .363 5.904 .000*** Interactivity .410 .516 8.384 .000*** Note. N= 152 R=. 668 R 2 =. 446 F ( 2 149) = 60.033 ***, ***p <.001 Table 4 19 R esult of regression, dependent variable: intentions for political participation. B Beta t Sig. (two tailed) (Constant) 2.705 12.527 .000 Involvement .174 .276 3.689 .000*** Interactivity .170 .284 3.784 .000*** Note. N= 152 R=. 421 R 2 =. 177 F ( 2 149) = 16.051 ***, ***p<.001

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58 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION AND CONCL USION Th is chapter begins with a summary of the present study, followed by a detailed analy sis of conclusions related to the hypothes e s and research questions Next, a discussion of the implications for theoretical and practical perspectives in public relations field is provided. Finally, the chapter concludes with limitations and recommendation s for future research. Summary The present study combines the concept of involvement and interactivity in order to clarify how citizens process online political information and how these features jointly affect the perceptions of online political informat intention to participate politically. One focus of this research is to investigate how two different levels of involvement by information providers affect attitudes toward the candidate and poli tical affects attitude changes through two routes (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986): the central route involves thinking about an object, while the peripheral route happens wh en people have a low level of elaboration and rely on simple cues. Source credibility is one of the cues that affect attitude. Therefore, varied levels of involvement were expected to influence credibility and, in turn, persuasion. Specifically, citizens w ho are high in ability and motivation are expected to focus more on message content and to be less influenced by information. Extant studies have examined individual elements of traditional website presentation, such as navigation, interactivity, and links, in terms of credibility assessment. However, little research has empirically addressed the key issues of the overall level of interactivity of social media and its effect on perceived credibility, attitude toward the candidate, and intention to participate

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59 politically. Therefore, both involv e ment and the level of interactivity were simultaneously examined in this study. An experimental design was employed in which p articipants were exposed to political information offered by sources with different levels of involvement. In addition, the Facebook sites they explored were portrayed as having either high interactivity or low interactivity. The researcher created a ficti tious politician on Facebook site. This study sought to clarify how perceived information credibility, attitude toward the candidate, and intention to participate politically are influenced by their assessments of involvement and interactivity. The study p rovides several important findings. First, there is a statistically significant negative correlation between involvement and perceived information credibility, so the the information and evaluation, which is consistent with the ELM theory. In other words, participants deemed information sources that were low in involvement as significantly more credible than they did those high involvement. The participants recruited i n this study may mirror the part of the public that is not particularly concerned about political issues. In addition, there was a positive relationship between interactivity and perceived information credibility. The findings indicate that participants ra te online political information on highly interactive sites as more credible than the information on low interactive site. This finding suggests that citizens trust online information more when the site is interactive. The study showed that both involveme the candidate, although interactivity had a more significant influence than involve m ent did. In addition, increased interactivity could lead to more positive intention to participate politically. In sum then, the more interactive features, such as navigation menus, feedback functions and links,

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60 intention to participate politically is. From a political commun ication perceptive, this study increases understanding of the involvement level and interactive features in the online political environment and could inform the work of scholars interested in examining the information credibility of political sites and th e strategic use of interactive features in maintaining positive attitudes. Knowing how to increase and enhance their intention to participate political ly participation will garner more importance. Overview of Hypotheses and Research Questions To better understand the findings, each of the five hypotheses is discussed in detail based on the results of this study. Hypothesis 1 was supported. The data show involvement is significantly related to perceived information credibility, that people are more likely to respond positively to information provided by sources with low levels of involvement positively. Participant s who received the political message from groups with low levels of involvement evaluated the message to be more trustworthy, believable, or accurate than they did political messages from groups with high levels of involvement. In line with previous resear ch, (Tormala et al., 2007). As in the Elaboration Likelihood Model (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986), es when they have less motivation about, personal relevance to, and knowledge about a given topic. Therefore, a positive relationship to perceived information credibility may be more easily observed when participants encounter an unfamiliar topic and have low motivation. Since the stimulus information in this study presented a political topic related to a politician, the effect of the

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61 n credibility. Hypothesis 2, which anticipated that Facebook site interactivity predicts perceived information credibility, was supported. There was a significant difference in credibility between highly interactive Facebook sites and low interactive Faceb ook sites, a finding consi stent with extant literature. A n ANOVA test indicated that both involvement and interactivity significantly predicts perceived information credibility, and interactivity was a stronger influence on perceived credibility than invol vement. This finding was consistent with extant literature that has and encouraging political participation (Sundar, Kalyanaraman, & Brown, 2003). In addition of credibility (Kiousis, 2003). Since the stimulus information in this study presented a political topic related to a politician the effect of interactive features might be a main factor in shaping Research questions 1 1 and 1 2 queried the effect of different levels of involvement on intention s to participate politically. A n ANOVA showed that participants s of involvement had a significant effect on their attitudes toward the candidate and on the intentions to participate politically. A low level of involvement led to better atti tudes toward the candidate ( M = 3.65) than a high level of involvement did ( M = 2.79). And with regard to intentions for political participation ratings, the low involvement was higher ( M = 2.98) than high involvement ( M = 2.49). This could be explained th at if people care about an issue more, he or she will have a specific attitude towards the issue and cannot be changed easily. In addition, involvement has a stronger effect on attitude

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62 towards the candidate than it does on intentions for political partici pation. Therefore, the present study supports the proposition that involvement can function as an important predictor of attitude toward s the candidate and intentions for political participation The present study concluded that different levels of involve ment attitudes towards the candidate while involvement also directly influence citizens intentions for political participation As for Hypotheses 3 1 and 3 2, interactivity is positively related to attitude toward the ca ndidate and intention to participate politically. A n ANOVA test revealed a strong and highly candidate and intentions to participate politically. This finding is con sistent with findings in previous studies, which have revealed that the more interactive features a website presents, such & Stromer Galley, 2000) and the gr eater the likelihood that they will participate in the political process (Tedesco, 2007). Therefore, Hypotheses 3 1 and 3 1 were supported. Hypotheses 4 1 and 4 toward the candidate and the ir intentions to participate politically. Based on extensive regression analyses, the results demonstrated a strong and highly predictable relationship between perceived suasion attitudes (Hovland et al., 1953; MacKenzie & Lutz, 1989). In addition, Sundar, Kalyanaraman, and Brown (2003) showed that enhancing online credibility increases political participation, a result that the current research supports. Moreover, perceived credibility has stronger effect on attitude towards the candidate than it does on the intention to participate politically.

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63 Conclusion and Implications The factors that predict perceptions of the credibility of online political information have lts about the differences in perceived credibility across different types of Facebook sites. One of the important findings in this study is that there is a difference in the perceived credibility of a poli tical message coming from a lowly involve d group an d that from a highly involved group. The study highlighted and tested the different levels of involvement and their connections to persuasion. Previous research impact on persuasion (Perloff, 2008). This study indicated that p articipants who are less involved with the political issue consider the information more credible than from highly involved participants. In addition, this study found that citizens rate onl ine political information from highly interactive sites as more credible than information from sites with low levels of political information online. This rese arch also contributes to understanding about the attitude change process based on involvement and interactivity cues in the context of Facebook sites. The study demonstrated that citizen attitude is highly related to Facebook site interactivity in that sit e interactivity builds positive attitudes and intentions among citizens. I n addition, this study combined online credibility into social media world. Facebook sites are chosen in this study because of its rising popularity and some unique interactive featu res it can provide. Most politicians or frontrunners have their personal Facebook pages to make efforts to establish efficient connection with citizens. online media environment allows room for organizations to post traditional news releases, and s ocial media such as Facebook or Twitter also contribute to image building in a

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64 more effective way Therefore, Facebook is a good platform to let citizens share their opinions and the interactivity features will enhance political participation due to its hi ghly interactive features. From a theoretical standpoin t, this study explains how interactivity and involvement influence information processing, attitude formation, and intention to participate politically, tribution toward our understanding of In terms of relevant, practical implications, political organizations or politicians pay lots of attention to establishing and maintaining a positive image in the online environment. Th ese find ings showed that increased interactivity of online environment also positively impacts attitudes toward the candidate and intentions for political participation by the page visitor Participants tend to evaluate a political web site or social networking sit e with more interactive features as more trustful, believable, and credible This implies that interactivity may play an important role in attracting political information seekers and in maintaining their attention because interactivity could facilitat e tw o way communication and encourage more deliberation and participation among citizens. In other words, since deliberation is the basis of the democracy it seems that a political site with highly interactive functions lead to a more positive impression an d engagement among the citizens Many supporters of candidate or political organizations could be good gatekeepers that they can control the flow of information and political influence better due to high interactivity of social networking sites than tradit ional media, they can monitor the media environment an d motivate their peers to vote for that candidate. Candidates who seek to bypass traditional media outlets with their message s and to build grassroots support would benefit from these findings. Therefor e, the presentation of websites or social networking sites in online environment becomes a focal point when political

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65 organizations and campaigns seek to elicit favorable attitudes toward the candidate or build long term relationships with c itizen s and oth er stakeholders. For example, politicians can use Facebook pages with high interactive features to obtain support from grassroots and encourage social movement. For political communication practitioners who try to create positive images about a candidate online or enhance political participation among citizens increasing the interactive features on the Web page or social media may be a good way to achieve their goals. Social media do not only contribute to the technological function s (e.g., interactivity) in an online environment, but also contribute to political campaigns. S ending messages on the Internet has been shown to increase one's likelihood of participating in politics, which result in mak ing the candidate's communica tion more credible and present ing a more favorable candidate for evaluation. For public relations practitioners, the study confirmed the belief that with the use of interactive features, Facebook could be a potential communication tool to foster trust and gain favorable attitudes Henc e, the more interactive features, the more realistic condition that people will be affected. Besides, it makes citizens generate social commitment and foster trust in the candidate or organizations. The future of social media is inspiring. In this study, t he high interactive features of Facebook may provide a more diverse online environment for apathetic citizens to explore political activity This make s these citizens into a "real world" and enhance s political participation. Similarly, seeing one's friends engage in political activity may help make these activities more normative, and these activities also encourages unengaged citizens to take actions in the democratic process (Vitak et al. 2009) Therefore the population of political participat ion grows due to the high interactive features of social media Most importantly, this study has revealed that interactivity on Facebook is significantly related to more general political

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66 participation. The implications of these findings have the potential to change the way candidates and political organizations use social network sites. In summary, t he credibility of online political information is of significant concern to political communication professionals and citizens. Many studies have examined the role of va rious elements in predicting perceptions of information credibility in the online environment (Burkell, 2004; Flanagin & Metzger, 2000; Fogg, 2003; Fogg et al., 2001; Hong, 2006; Nettleton et al., 2004), but little research has empirically addressed the ke y issues of involvement and interactivity in terms of credibility and its effect on attitude toward the candidate and intention to participate politically. To bridge this gap, this study empirically examines the effects of different levels of involvement a nd interactivity on perceived credibility of information and attitude toward the candidate. In addition, the study tested whether the level of involvement and meani ngful conclusions that low involved citizens could generate more positive intentions of participating in the political process. Moreover, the results indicated that taking advantage of more interactive features in Facebook sites has beneficial effects on t he c itizen s. Finally, overall Facebook site credibility seems to have important implications for political communication practitioners because those overall perceptions are likely to increase citizens and attitude in the online environment. Limitations and Future Research The present study has several limitations that lead to suggestions for future research. An experimental design is appropriate for this research because it allows controls for the variables of involvement and interactive fea tures so the researcher can observe the effect of interactive features and different levels of involvement on information credibility. The employment of real world political information in the experiment provided external validity. However, using a

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67 fictiti ous candidate on Facebook site did not truly resemble those actually encountered by participants in the natural condition. Thus, one might argue that the perceived credibility and subsequent changes in attitude or intention based on these materials cannot be applied to real world situations. Future studies should attempt to replicate the study employing actual political clarify how citizens search for politically related information and to the differences in perceived information credibility among citizens who themselves have different levels of involvement with the issues. The study confirmed a significant relationship between the level of interactivity and parti active user control (navigation menu and hyperlink) and two way communication (feedback forms and e mail), and did not include all the possible features that could make an online environment truly interactive, such as modality content (e.g., Sims, 1995) and register devices. In addition, the interactivity of Facebook is built in function so this study was restricted from examining the effect of some truly interactiv e features, such as discussion forums. Future analysis should investigate the impact of additional types of interactivity on assessments of credibility. In addition, what features attract and engage users most remain unclear, so future research should dete rmine which particular features of Facebook sites contribute to increasing favorable attitudes toward the candidate and the intention to participate politically. limi tation, since a college student sample does not represent the general population. Although previous studies have indicated that students are the heaviest groups of Internet users (Eastin, 2001), they can reveal only a narrow scope of citizen perceptions an d attitudes. Unlike other

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68 subject groups, student subjects may rely on online social networking sites as their source of information more than other subject groups do. Their perceptions of credible online political information are also different from those of people from other generations. Therefore, the results of the present study cannot be generalized, and future research should replicate this study in different regions of the country with users from other age groups. In addition, future studies should t est the impact of interactivity levels on perceptions of credibility and positive attitudes in a more diverse sample. Different characteristics, such as age, race, and socioeconomic status, may directly or indirectly affect performance in the online enviro nment. This study contributes to research on the antecedents of information credibility, attitude formation, and intention to participate politically. Clearly, other variables, such as argument quality or source cue (e.g., site sponsors), may influence inf ormation credibility. Therefore, future research should examine argument quality as an independent variable in order to clarify the effect of information credibility. involv ement and interactivity on assessments of online political information credibility. Increasing the understanding of how citizens determine the quality of online political information will help public relations and political communication practit ioners prod uce more trusted and accepted messag es.

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69 Independent Variables Dependent Variables Figure 5 1 Modified theoretical model in the present study. Interactivity Involvement Perceived Credibility Attitude towards the C andidate and Intentions for Political P articipation

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70 APPENDIX A FACEBOOK SITE LAYOUT Figure A 1 High interactive political Facebook site layout for highly involved group. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001741086832&v=wall

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71 Figure A 2 High interactive political Facebook site layout for lowly involved group. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001741086832&v=wall#!/profile.php?id=1000019 53402890&sk=wall

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72 Figure A 3 Low interactive political Facebook site layout for highly involved group. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10000174 1086832&v=wall#!/profile.php?id=1000017 96257152&sk=wall

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73 Figure A 4 Low interactive political Facebook site layout for lowly involved group. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001741086832&v=wall#!/profile.php?id=1000020 54492161&sk=wall

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74 APPENDIX B POLITICAL INFORMATION POST ON FACEBOOK SITE: ANDREW MILLER The notes of Andrew Miller Note 1: Mill Quality education is, and must continue to be, the foundation of the American economy. As we climb out from this economic crisis, we must prepare Americans for the jobs of the future. This strategy is about more than just re covery it is about how we will emerge stronger than before. America will only continue to lead if our children can compete in the global economy. Charter schools play an important role in Race to the Top as laboratories for creative teaching strategies a nd new learning models, but the inconsistencies in the quality of charter schools should be addressed through greater accountability and oversight. I would like to see a clear process for closing down those schools that chronically underperform. I oppose p rivate school voucher proposals. There is strong evidence that these programs do not improve student achievement, but only serve to divert millions of taxpayer dollars from public to private schools. Our education system depends on a strong public school system. I support proposals that properly fund and build up that system. I support new and innovative ways to reward good teachers with higher pay as long as those decisions are made by local districts and developed with teachers, not imposed on them. I su pport programs that give districts the ability to reward teachers who work in underserved places, like rural areas and inner cities, and in challenging schools experiencing teacher shortages. Districts should also be able to reward accomplished educators w ho serve as mentors to new teachers. If teachers consistently excel in the classroom, that work is valued and should be rewarded too. To the degree that teachers are compensated in part based on performance, I oppose over reliance on student standardized t est scores. The best way to measure teacher performance is a combination of assessment tools such as observations

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75 measures that provide a more complete picture of a te believe that our educational system must be protected from massive layoffs and budget cuts. and I s the state recognize that the very concept of a thankful for the thousands of small dollar donors who are fighting back. At the end of the day, the most valuable contr ibution made to a campaign is a single vote, which when joined with millions of others can be a clarion call for true change. Being a professional congressman must keep a clean cut image. A senate seat is not for sale! Basic information about Andrew Mille r Andrew Miller is a fifth generation small businessman in a Germany corporation. Andrew graduated from university in 1970 and went on to proudly serve his country in Vietnam. After his service, Andrew returned to United States. In Congress, Congressman Mi ller works to advance a suburban agenda that is pro defense, pro personal responsibility, pro environment, and pro science. He wrote a number of provisions which became law, including funding for commuter rail, improving veteran's health care, ensuring mil itary voting, and boosting aviation security.

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76 He dedicated his time to government reform and fiscal responsibility and is working to create a sustainable budget so that we do not pass our financial burdens to our children and grandchildren. Before he was a congressman, he had made effort to philanthropy and led the fight for public education, healthcare, and welfare reform. Posts by Andrew Miller Post 1: without all of the vo lunteers and supporters who energized this campaign. I am honored to have Post 2: I was really proud to recently earn the support of our local newspaper. Post 3: Andrew Mill er for Congress! I am running for Congress in the upcoming election in Florida. I support lowering student tuition from the beginning summer term 2011 in the state of Florida.

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77 APPENDIX C INSTRUCTIONS TO SUBJ ECTS Dear Student: My name is Hsiao Ying Liu and I am a graduate student working under the supervision of Dr. Kiousis You are being asked to participate in a study designed to examine c itizens responses to online political information. You will be asked to view a political candidate s Facebook site and to indicate your thoughts and feelings about the site. This resea rch project was designed solely for research purposes and no one except the research team will have access to any of your responses. Your identity will be confidential to the extent prov ided by law. Your participation in this project is voluntary. You do not have to answer any question(s) that you do not wish to answer. Please be advised that you may ch oose not to participate in this research, and you may withdraw from the study at any ti me withou t consequence. Non participation will not affect your grad e. There is no dir ect benefit or compensation for participation. This experiment will take approxi mately 10 minutes during your regularly scheduled class time. There are no anticipated risk s associated with participation. If you have any questions or comments about this research, please contact Hsiao Ying Liu, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida, 352 870 32 04/littleying27@hotmail.com or Dr. Kiousis, College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida, 352 273 1220/skiousis@jou.ufl.edu Questions or concerns about research participants' righ ts may b e directed to the UFIRB office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250; phone 392 0433. Sincerely, Hsiao Ying Liu Agreement: I have read the document stating the procedures to be used and followed in this study. I voluntar ily AGREE to participate in th is study PLEASE CLICK ON NEXT BELOW IF YOU AGREE WITH THE ABOVE INFORMATION.

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78 APPENDIX D QUESTIONNAIRE FOR PR ETEST I NTRODUCTION Thank you for taking time to participate in this study. The purpose of this research is to get following questions carefully, and check one choice from the scale that best describes your thoughts or feelings. Your answers will be used only for statist ical purposes and will remain strictly confidential. Thank you! Before answering the questions, please log in your Facebook mail: fanny741127@yahoo.com.tw password: survey2011) and click o n the following link: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001741086832&v=info#!/profile.php?id=1000017 41086832&v=wall Section 1 Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements. 1. I felt that I had a lot of control over my experiences at this Facebook site. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 2. While I was on theFacebook site, I could cho ose freely what I wanted to see. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 3. The Facebook site is effective in gathering visitors' feedback. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 4. The Facebook site makes me feel like it wants to listen to its visitors. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 5. The Facebook site gives visitors the opportunity to talk back to the candidate. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 6 The Facebook site allowed me to po st comments. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 7 The Facebook site allowed me to send a message to the candidate. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 8 Strongly disagre e (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 9. Overall, the Facebook site is interactive.

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79 Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree Section 2 Level of involvement Andrew Miller is a candidate who is running for Congress in the upcoming election in Florida. He supports lowering student tuition from the beginning summer term 2011 in the state of Florida. Please evaluate the political information presented on his Facebook sit e and give us your honest responses to the following questions. Remember, ther e are no right or wrong answers, just tell us about your own experience: 1. How much d o you pay attention to the political information presented on the Facebook site? Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 2. How much were you motivated to read the political information presented on the Facebook site? Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 3. How im portant are the political issues addressed on the Facebook site to you personally? Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 4. How much are you concerned about the p olitical issues on this Facebook site? Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 5. I paid close attention to the political information presented on the Facebook site. Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 6. I carefully read the political information presen ted on the Facebook site. Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much Section 3 Demographics 1. Gender: ( ) Male ( ) Female 2. Age: _______ 3. Current level of education: ( ) Freshman ( ) Sophomore ( ) Junior ( ) Senior or post baccalaureate ( ) Graduate Student or Doctorial Student Thank you very much for your participation!

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80 APPENDIX E QUESTIONNAIRE FOR EX PERIMENT GROUP INTRODUCTION Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions in th opinions on the online pol itical information you just read. Ple ase circle the number that best describes your thoughts or feelings. Your answers will be used on ly for statistical purposes and will remain strictly anonymous to the extent provided by law. P lease read the instructions and questions carefully. Before answering the questions, please log in your Facebook account (If you mail: fanny741127@yahoo.com.tw password: survey2011) an d click on the following link: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001741086832&v=info#!/profile.php?id=1000017 41086832&v=wall S ection 1. Level of involvement Andrew Miller is a candidate who is running for Congress in the upcoming election in Florida. He supports lowering student tuition from the beginning summer term 2011 in the state of Florida. Please evaluate the political in formation presented on his Facebook sit e and give us your honest responses to the following questions. Remember, there are no right or wrong answers, just tell us about your own experience: 1. How much did you pay attention to the political information prese nted on th is Facebook site ? Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 2. How much were you motivated to read the political information presented on this Facebook site? Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 3. How im portant are the political issues addressed on this Facebook site to you personally? Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 4. How much are you concerned about the political issues on this Facebook site? Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much 5. I paid close attention to the political information pr esented on this Facebook site. Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much

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81 6. I carefully read the political information presented on this Facebook site. Not at all (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very much Section 2. Evaluation of credibility Please evaluate the politic al information you just read about the following statements. 1. The political information presented o n this Facebook site was accurate. Not at all accurate (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very accurate 2. The political information presented o n this Facebook site was bel ievable Not at all believable (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very believable 3. The political information presented o n this Facebook site was biased. Complete bias (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) No bias 4. The political information presented o n this Facebook site was fair. Not at all fair (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very fair 5. The depth of the political information presented on this Facebook site was satisfactory. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree Section 3. Attitude toward the candidate After reading the political inf ormation, please evaluate how you feel about the candidate, Andrew Miller, by circling a number on each of the scales below. If you feel that you have no reaction, please circle the number 4 to indicate your neutrality. 1. Unfavorable (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Fav orable 2. Bad (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Good 3. Dislike (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Like 4. Negative (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Positive Section 4. Your Reactions to the Facebook site Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements: 1. While surfing this site, I had control over what I can do on th is Facebook site Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 2. While I was on th is Facebook site, I could choose freely what I wanted to see. Strongly disa gree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree

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82 3. Th is Faceb ook site is effective in gathering visitors' feedback Strongly disagree (1 ) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 4. Th is Facebook site makes me feel like it wants to listen to its visitors Strongly disa gree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 5. Th is Facebook sit e gives visitors the opportunity to talk back to the candidate Strongly disa gree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 6. Th is Facebook site allowed me to post comments. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 7. Th is Facebook site allowed me to s end a message to the candidate. Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 8. different subject s Strongly disagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree 9. Overall, th is Facebook site is interactive. Strongly di sagree (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Strongly agree Section 5. Intentions to participate in politics 1. How important is it to you that you participate in the upcoming el e ction? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important 2. How important is it to you that you discuss politics with others in the near future? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important 3. How important is it to you that you attend political rallies, meetings, or campaign events in the near future? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important 4. How important is it to you that you support your favorite candidate financially with donations in the near future? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important 5. How important is it to you that you volunteer to do campaign work for y our favorite candidate in the near future? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important 6. How important is it to you that you write letters or e mails to elected officials about issues you care deeply about? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important

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83 7. How important is it to you that you support your favorite candidate by posting a campaign sign or sticker on your property or person? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important 8. How important is it to you that you participate in organiz ed boycotts, protests, or demonstrations? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important 9. How important is it to you that you gather signatures on a petition about a topic that you care deeply about in the near future? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important 10. How important is it to you that you support any organizations with social and/or political goals such as Greenpeace, PETA, Amnesty International, etc.? Very Unimportant (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) Very Important Section 6. Please answer th e following question. 1. How many years have you been using the Internet? One or less [ ] Two or three years ago [ ] Four years ago [ ] Five years ago [ ] Six years or more [ ] 2. What is the average number of hours you spend on getting news or informati on from the Internet every day? 0 [ ] 1 [ ] 2 5 [ ] 6 10 [ ] more than 10 [ ] 3. Have you eve r use the Internet to look up politica l information? Never [ ] A few times a year [ ] About once a month [ ] About once a week [ ] More than once a week [ ]

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84 Se ction 7. Demographics 1. Gender Male [ ] Female [ ] 2. Age ______ 3. What is your current class standing? [ ] Freshman [ ] Sophomore [ ] Junior [ ] Senior or post baccalaureate [ ] Graduate Student or Doctorial Student THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR PARTICIP ATION!

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85 LIST OF REFERENCES Anduiza, E., Cantijoch, M., & Gallego, A. (2009). POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AND THE INTERNET. Information, Communication & Society, 12(6), 860 878. doi:10.1080/13691180802282720. Brady, H. (1993). Political participation. I n J.P. Robinson, P.R. Shaver, & L.S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of political attitudes (pp.737 796). San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Cutlip, S. M., Center, A. H., and Broom, G. M. (2000). Effective public relations, (8th ed.). Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice Hall. Davis, J. (1997). Advertising research: Theory and practice. NJ: Prentice Hall. Dunleavy, K., Chory, R., & Goodboy, A. (2010). Responses to Deception in the Workplace: Perceptions of Credibility, Power, and Trustworthiness. Communication Studies, 6 1(2), 239 255. doi:10.1080/10510971003603879. Ellen, P. S., & Bone, P. F. (1998). Does it matter if it smells? Olfactory stimuli as advertising executional cues. Journal of Advertising, 27(4), 29 39. Fallows, D. (2005). Search engine users: Internet search ers are confident, satisfied and trusting but they are also unaware and nave. Report for the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved January 25, 2005, from http://www.pewinte rnet.org/PPF/r/146/report_display.asp Flanagin A J & Metzger, M J (2003 a May ). The role of site features user attributes and information verification behaviors on the perceived credibility of Web based information Paper presented at the 53rd annua l conference of the International Communication Association ( ICA ), San Diego CA Free d man, J. (1964). Involvement, discrepancy, and opinion change. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 69, 290 295. Hendrix, J.A. (2004). Public Relations Cases (6th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Johnson, T. J., and Kaye, B. K. (1998). Cruising is believing? Comparing internet and traditional sources on media credibility measures. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 75(2), 325 340. Johnson, T., & Kaye, B. (200 0). USING IS BELIEVING: THE INFLUENCE OF RELIANCE ON THE CREDIBILITY OF ONLINE POLITICAL INFORMATION AMONG POLITICALLY INTERESTED INTERNET USERS. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 77(4), 865 879. Retrieved from Comm unication & Mass Media Complete database. Jo, S. (2005). The Effect of Online Media Credibility on Trust Relationships. Journal of Website Promotion, 1(2), 57

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86 Kiousis, S. (2001). Public Trust or Mistrust? Perceptions of Media Credibility in the Information Age. Mass Communication & Society, 4(4), 381 403. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database. Kiousis, S. (2003). Equal Trust: An Experiment Exploring the Impact of Interactivity and Conference Papers -International Communication Association, 1 37. doi:ica_proceeding_11 968.PDF. Kiousis, S., & Dimitrova, D. (2004). The Differential Impact of Web Site Content: Exploring the Influence of Source (Public Relations vs. News), Modality, & Participation on Audience Perceptions. Conference Papers -International Communic ation As sociation, 1. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database. Kiousis, S., & Dimitrova, D. (2006). Differential impact of Web site content: Exploring the influence of source (public relations versus news), modality, and participation on colleg e 179. Kline, R. B. (1998). Principles and practices of structural equation modeling. NY: The Guilford Press. Lenhart, A. (2009). PEW Internet project data memo. Pew Internet and American Life Proj ect . Lin, S. (2005). A public relations campaign of corporate social responsibility: A test of cognitive Gainesville, FL. Liu, Y.P., & Shrum, L.J. (2002). What is interactivity and is it always such a good thing? Implications of definition, person, and situation for the influence of interactivity on advertising effectiveness. Journal of Advertising, 31(4), 5 3 64. Liu, Y.P. (2003). Developing a scale to measure the interactivity of Web sites. Journal of Advertising Research, 43(2), 207 216. McMillan, S.J., & Hwang, J.S. (2002). Measures of perceived interactivity: An exploration of the role of direction of com munication, user control, and time in shaping perceptions of interactivity. Journal of Advertising, 31(3), 29 42. Perloff, R M. (2008). The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and attitudes in the 21st century (third edition). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawren ce Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1979). Issue involvement can increase or decrease persuasion by enhancing message relevant cognitive responses. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 1915 1926.

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87 Petty, R. E., C acioppo, J. T., & Schumann, D. (1983). Central and peripheral routes to advertising effectiveness: The moderating role of involvement. Journal of Consumer Research, 10, 135 146. Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). Communication and persuasion: central and peripheral routes to persuasion. New York: Springer Verlag. Reber, B. H., & Kim, J. (2006). How activist groups use Web sites in media relations: Evaluating online press rooms. Journal of Public Relations Research, 18(4), 313 333 Song, I., & Bucy, E. (2006). Effects of Interactivity on Attitude Formation on Political Websites: A Path Analysis of the Mediation Effect of Perceived Interactivity. Conference Papers -International Communication Association, 1 35. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database. Stassen, W. (2010). Your news in 140 characters: exploring the role of social media in journalism. Global Media Journal: African Edition, 4(1), 1 16. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database. Sweetser, K. (2010). A Los ing Strategy: The Impact of Nondisclosure in Social Media on Relationships. Journal of Public Relations Research, 22(3), 288 312. doi:10.1080/10627261003614401. Stavrositu, C., & Sundar, S. (2004). Interstitials and their Relevance to Website Content: Infl uence on Website Crediblity. Conference Papers -International Communication Association, 1. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database. Stromer Galley, J. (2000). On Line Interaction and Why Candidates Avoid It. Journal of Communication, 50(4), 111. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database. Stromer Galley, J. (2004). Interactivity as Product and Interactivity as Process. Information Society, 20(5), 391 394. doi:10.1080/01972240490508081. Sundar, S.S., Hesser, K.M., Kaly anaraman, S., & Brown, J. (1998). The effect of interactivity on political persuasion, paper presented at the Sociology & Social Psychology section at the 21st General Assembly & Scientific Conference of the International Association for Media and Communic ation Research, Glasgow, UK. Sundar, S., Kalyanaraman, S., & Brown, J. (2003). Explicating Web Site Interactivity: Impression Formation Effects in Political Campaign Sites. Communication Research, 30(1), 30 59. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Com plete database. Sundar, S., & Stavrositu, C. (2006). If Internet Credibility Is So Iffy, Then Why the Heavy Use? The Relationship Between Medium Use and Credibility. Conference Papers -International Communication Association, 1 28. Retrieved from Communi cation & Mass Media Complete database.

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88 Thorson, K., Vraga, E., & Ekdale, B. (2010). Credibility in Context: How Uncivil Online Commentary Affects News Credibility. Mass Comm unication & Society, 13(3), 289 313. doi:10.1080/15205430903225571. Treise, D., Wal sh Childers, K., Weigold, M., & Friedman, M. (2003). Cultivating the Science Internet Audience. Science Communication, 24(3), 309. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database. Vitak, J., Smock, A., Zube, P., Carr, C., Ellison, N., & Lampe, C. (2009). "Poking" People to Participate: Facebook and Political Participation in the 2008 Election. Conference Papers International Communication Association, 1 41. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Wang, S. (2007). Political Use of the Internet, Political At titudes and Political Participation. Asian Journal of Communication, 17(4), 381 395. doi:10.1080/01292980701636993. Weber, L. M., Loumakis, A., & Bergman, J. (2003). Who participates and why? An analysis of citizens on the Internet and the mass public. Soc ial Science Computer Review, 21, 26 42. Wright, D. K., & Hinson, M. D. (2008). How blogs and social media are changing public relations and the way it is practiced. Public Relations Journal, 2(2), 1 21. Xenos, M., & Moy, P. (2007). Direct and Differential Effects of the Internet on Political and Civic Engagement. Journal of Communication, 57( 4), 704 718. doi:10.1111/j.1460 2466.2007.00364.x.

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89 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Hsiao Ying Liu was born in Tainan, Taiwan. In 200 8 she obtained her Bachelor of Art in P olitical S cience from National Cheng Kung University, one of the most prestigious colleges of cultivating entrepreneur s in Taiwan. She joined the graduate program of the College of Journalism and Communication at the University of Florida in fall 200 9 S he received a Master of Art in M ass C ommunication with specialization in public relations in the spring of 2011 During her graduate studies, she focused on online media, international public relations, political communication and corporate social responsibi lity. After graduation, she will continue her public relations career in Taiwan by becoming engaged in practical areas of public relations.