Effects of social endorsement on news evaluation in Korea and the U.S.

Date of Award

June 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mass Communications


Pamela J. Shoemaker


Cross-national analysis, Experiment, Korea, Online news, Social endorsement, U.S.

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation has three overarching objectives. First, it aims to examine the effects of social endorsements on news processing as compared to the effects of media credibility. Second, it investigates whether there are cross-national variations in the process. Third, it explores what role individuals’ self-construal plays in these relationships. I conducted a 2 x 2 x 3 between-subjects experiment (N = 567) in which country (Korea vs. U.S.), media credibility (high vs. low), and social endorsement level (none vs. low vs. high) were manipulated.

Results demonstrate that social endorsements affect the way people perceive and evaluate the quality of online news content. In the experiment, subjects who saw a news article with a high number of social endorsements perceived the quality of the news article to be higher, as compared to those who saw no endorsement. Results also indicate that social endorsements reduce the effects of media credibility on perceived quality of news. The gap between the effects of high credibility media and low credibility media on perceived quality of news article decreased when more people endorsed the article. However, these findings applied only to the U.S., not Korea.

This dissertation also finds that Korean subjects are not dominantly collectivistic as many scholars assumed. Rather, the Korean subjects displayed a bi-cultural tendency with almost equal levels of independent and interdependent self-construal. While the U.S. subjects demonstrated dominantly independent self-construal, they also reported stronger interdependent self-construal than Korean subjects. Results also suggest that independent and interdependent self-construals may influence the direction and magnitude of social endorsement effects on perceived quality of news to some extent, albeit not as the primary factor.

Upon the growing socialization of online news, this dissertation provides a better understanding of the role of social endorsements in news processing. Specifically, the interplay between media credibility and social endorsements in news evaluation suggests that the importance of media credibility in news processing might need to be re-examined and re-evaluated. This dissertation also reveals that there could be cross-national or within-national variations in the role of social endorsements in news processing. These findings carry meaningful implications for scholars and practitioners in various fields of communications.


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