Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Molly Kavanagh 

BSc [Hons] Applied Psychology

I am a final year Applied Psychology (tech path) student here in IADT. I have grown up surrounded by social media and technology and I have always been intrigued by the relationship between users and design and how to apply psychological principles to technology. Throughout this course I have developed a keen interest in UX/UI and usability and plan to pursue a career in these areas.

The Effect of Aesthetics and Expertise on the Perceived Credibility of Online Creators

With the exponential growth of social media comes the spread of misinformation. It is vital for internet users seeking out information online to verify their sources and always question the information they are taking in. However, when scrolling through social media the average user will not take the time to research the qualifications of the creator they are viewing. New social media app, TikTok, has been noted as a possible breeding ground for misinformation, but what makes us more likely to trust an online creator? Research has indicated the credibility of creators can be affected by attractiveness, follower count, aesthetics and expertise.

Project Objectives

The aim of this project was to research a possible relationship between the effect of aesthetics and expertise on source credibility and to examine the effects of these variables individually on source credibility. The reason for this research was to fill a gap in current research and expand the field by examining the concurrent effects of both expertise and aesthetics. There is also little to no research on the credibility of TikTok creators which is an area with huge potential for future research as TikTok has become a major platform for sharing information on Health, wellbeing , finance and much more.

Project Outcomes

The expected results of this project were that good visual aesthetics and/or presence of expertise would create higher credibility ratings. However, Individually these variables were not found to have significant effects but a relationship was found between expertise and aesthetics. These results showed highest credibility ratings for creators with either visual aesthetics or expertise present. The creators with both expertise and good visual aesthetics present and also creators with no expertise and no visual aesthetics present scored lower on credibility. The findings of this study will have relevance for online content creators and possibly UX designers in terms of catering their profiles to increase credibility from their audience.