Selection Behaviour

Selection decisions under uncertainty

The purpose of the PhD project is to better understand the role of search engines in users’ credibility assessments of search results. Based on the assumption that users have been maintaining long lasting and close relations with search engines, the respective brand is supposed to activate credibility heuristics to reduce uncertainty and cognitive effort during the selection of search results. The expected outcomes are meant to inform a model of the factors influencing the search process. Moreover, results may be applied to information literacy education.


The project builds on previous research on selection behaviour, credibility assessments, cognitive heuristics, and branding models.


Evidence is achieved by conducting an experiment. Additional insights through focus group discussions.


Expected results are meant to contribute to theory-building by informing a model on the factors influencing the search process.


Credibility transfer from search engine to search results has not been addressed, just as little as trusted relations of users.

The intention is to represent realistic situations of searching where users heavily rely on credible information, such as issues of health, shopping, and controversial debated topics.

The experimental research design aims at including search engine brand, ranking and credibility of search results to determine the effect of the search engine on selection decisions and credibility assessments. With help of a supplementary survey, perceptions and usage patterns of search engines are collected, and knowledge and literacy are tested. This extensive approach that combines several methods is unique for addressing the credibility of search engines and results.

Project team

Helena Häußler

Funded through doctoral funding, HAW Hamburg – Graduate Centre.
Funding period 12/2020-11/2023