Our relationship with information is becoming increasingly complex due to the massive amount we are producing every day and consequently what’s becoming available to us via the Internet. As such we’ve had to develop new ways of sifting through what information is trustworthy and what’s worth discarding.

A successful search for trusted information is made up of three parts: a trusted search engine, a personal bias for a selection of trust markers and our trust personality that’s largely informed by how easily we give trust to others on a day-to-day basis.

Our trust personalities can be understood by reviewing the extensive body of literature that covers individual and societal theories of trust. But to really grasp the importance of trust markers, we have to trace how trust is intricately tied to risk and control. It’s only then that we’re able to see that trust markers enable an individual to feel somewhat in control over a search process that could potentially be very overwhelming. These trust markers are also loaded with meaning because they are a product of our social identities.  As the author of a piece of information crafts content, they leave parts of themselves behind: what words to use, how to construct a sentence, what places, things or people to make reference to, how to design the webpage etc. Searchers look for these clues to find something they can relate to. As such trust markers in addition guide us to trusted information because they give us an insight not just into the ‘what’ but the ‘who’ and therefore an opportunity to decide whether we would like to trust the person we believe constructed a piece of content.

To read more about trust markers, click here.

To read more about what 18 – 22 year-olds think about trust, click here.

To read more about how people search for information online and to read examples from the search diary entries, see Case #1, Case #2 and Case #3.