We still trust in Google, but less than 10 years ago: an eye-tracking study

Schultheiß, S., Sünkler, S., & Lewandowski, D. (2018). We still trust in google, but less than 10 years ago: An eye-tracking study. Information Research, 23(3).

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The purpose of this study is to replicate a study from 2007, which found that student users trust in Google’s ability to rank results more than in their own relevance judgements. In a between-subjects experiment using eye-tracking methodology, participants (n=25) worked on search tasks where the results ranking on search engine results pages had been manipulated. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics, analysis of variance (ANOVA), t-tests and mixed model analyses with the statistical program SPSS. This study confirms major results from the study we replicated, but finds one important difference: although the viewing behaviour was influenced more by the position than by the relevance of a snippet, the crucial factor for a result to be clicked was the relevance and not its position on the results page. The subjects of our experiment displayed an emancipated search behaviour while choosing relevant snippets even in lower positions. This means that, despite the fact that students were influenced by the position of a result, they made choices on the basis of relevance.